Victims of the San Bernardino attack will be part of a collective lawsuit aimed at forcing Apple to open up an iPhone that belonged to one of the shooters.
Stephen Larson, an ex-federal judge and a current lawyer, took the case pro bono but did not mention how many victims enrolled in the class action. His steps towards revealing the missing pieces of information about the attack support the FBI's efforts to convince Apple to unlock the iPhone.
"They were targeted by terrorists, and they need to know why, how this could happen," Larson told Reuters.
Before the dispute went public, members of the Justice Department and local prosecutors reached out to Larson. He declared that an amicus brief will reach the courthouse by the beginning of March.
The Justice Department could not be contacted for commentary on the subject.
The San Bernardino attack left 14 dead and 22 wounded. The shooting was carried out by a married couple who took inspiration from the Islamic State militants. The assailants were shot down in a gun fight with the police.
After the attack, authorities pressed Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the attackers, but to no avail.
Tim Cook sent on open letter to customers in which he notes that Apple "worked hard to support the government's efforts to solve this horrible crime."
James Comey, FBI Director, recently underlined that his organization does not aim to create a precedent by asking Apple to break its security policy. What the bureau really wants is to deliver justice to the victims.
"Fourteen people were slaughtered and many more had their lives and bodies ruined. We owe them a thorough and professional investigation under law," Comey wrote.
The iPhone of one of the shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook, is in FBI custody. The Bureau wants Apple to break in the handset without damaging the data within, in the hope of having a better understanding of the case and to protect against possible future tragedies.
Apple is reluctant to comply, stating time and time again that this would threaten customer security, not to mention it would set a dangerous precedent.
The friction between the iPhone manufacturer and the Justice Department is part of a heated debate over privacy levels in digital communication. Multiple tech companies side with Apple and say that opening backdoors in devices is similar to opening Pandora's Box.
Last week on Tuesday, the Justice Department won a federal court order against Apple. The company will present its first legal arguments this Friday.
In his blog post, Comey admitted that the clash created unwanted tension between privacy and security. He went on to add that the dispute should find an ending, by constant cooperation between "corporations that sell stuff for a living" and the FBI.
"[The dispute] should be resolved by the American people deciding how we want to govern ourselves in a world we have never seen before," he said.
Tim Cook, Apple CEO, pointed out that yielding to the authorities' demands and creating software that decrypts an iPhone's security system would create a liability to all similar devices.
"In the wrong hands, this software - which does not exist today - would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession," Cook says.