Apple is filing a request to dismiss the court order that requires the company to lend the FBI a hand in breaking into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, saying that it's a violation of the Constitution.
Using the All Writs Act of 1789, the authorities are pressuring Apple to comply with their demands, which involves creating a backdoor to bypass the iPhone's security measures and putting all other owners of a similar device at risk. Apple CEO Tim Cook says it would set a "dangerous precedent" should the company give in.
According to Apple, forcing the company to cooperate by using the All Writs Act is a misapplication of the 227-year-old law.
"Apple strongly supports, and will continue to support, the efforts of law enforcement in pursuing justice against terrorists and other criminals – just as it has in this case and others. But the unprecedented order requested by the government finds no support in law and would violate the Constitution," Apple says (PDF).
However, FBI Director James Comey says that the tool the investigators want Apple to build is going to be used on only one iPhone, noting that they don't want to "break anyone's encryption" or "set a master key loose on the land."
Apple already explained the consequences of building a security-breaking tool, noting that it could fall into the wrong hands and that "there is no way to guarantee such control" despite the authorities' statement.
"The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that's simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices," Cook says.
Apple is right in this case, as numerous officials have publicly expressed their intentions to take advantage of the software to unlock other devices that were acquired from other similar incidents.
In the same vein, Apple is also looking into using its First Amendment rights to oppose the government's use – or misuse, as Apple claims – of the All Writs Act.
The Department of Justice suggests that it's only a simple and isolated task.
"Compliance with the order would not require inordinate effort. Modifying an operating system – which is essentially writing software code in a discrete and limited manner – is not an unreasonable burden for a company that writes software code as part of its regular business," the DOJ says.
The FBI is demanding Apple's cooperation because the iPhone is designed to be impossible to unlock by third parties and even the company itself, thus the request to develop a whole new iOS just for this purpose.
The iPhone is programmed to automatically erase any data after 10 incorrect entries of the passcode. It also imposes a delay between each entry and rejects electronic input and requires manual input.
If the government wins, then every investigative body even from overseas will approach Apple to give them the same treatment whenever a similar incident occurs, and they will no doubt cite this case to force the company into providing a backdoor.
In related news, Apple has some pretty powerful supporters against the government, as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are going to stand with the Cupertino brand in court.
Considering these details, Apple is likely going to come out on top over the FBI, but it's definitely going to be a tough journey for the company.