Seeing as Apple continues to combat the FBI's iPhone unlock requests, the U.S. Department of Justice now threatens to force Cupertino to hand over the entire iOS source code.

Simply put, the DOJ is saying that if Apple doesn't want to create a back door, it should just turn over the keys for the whole building. The government wants access to the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, but it will settle for the iOS source code if Apple continues to refuse iPhone unlock requests.

Tech Times previously reported that the DOJ responded to Apple's latest brief on Thursday, arguing that Apple is hostile and its stance in the encryption case relies on "false" and "corrosive" rhetoric.

Digging deeper into the DOJ's 43-page document, we found that the government's intentions are even harsher than previously thought. Buried in a footnote on page 22, the department says Apple should just hand over its iOS source code and electronic signature.

If it gets access to these two items, the government would then be able to build its own operating system based on iOS and finally unlock the iPhone 5c belonging to terrorist Syed Farook, who's involved in the San Bernardino shooting.

"[T]he FBI cannot itself modify the software on Farook's iPhone without access to the source code and Apple's private electronic signature," the DOJ says (PDF). "The government did not seek to compel Apple to turn those over because it believed such a request would be less palatable to Apple. If Apple would prefer that course, however, that may provide an alternative that requires less labor by Apple programmers."

The government believes that Farook's iPhone could contain useful information that could help in its investigation. Such information could include the name or other details regarding the potential third shooter some witnesses allegedly saw.

Apple, however, argued time and time again that offering a back door, or creating a special version of iOS that would weaken security in order to let the government in, would be like opening Pandora's Box. Should the code ever fall into the wrong hands, the consequences could be dire.

The encryption battle between Apple and the U.S. government seems to be getting fiercer by the minute, and the case could eventually reach the Supreme Court.

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