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Apple Slams DOJ Amid FBI iPhone Unlock Debacle: This All Writs Act Abuse Would Appall Our Founding Fathers

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Apple is schooling the Department of Justice by taking it back to the history books in its corporation's latest arguments against the U.S. government.

On the other hand, the government, via the DOJ and the FBI, are attempting to rewrite the history books by using the All Writs Act to justify its demands on Apple.

Using The All Writs Act Like "A Magical Wand"

Apple submitted its final 26-page filing (PDF) to a district court in California before the the start of the oral arguments between both parties next week.

In the new filing, Apple cites numerous court cases and decisions supporting its claim that the 18th-century statute known as the All Writs Act does not authorize an order like the one the DOJ is enforcing on Apple, and that the Constitution even forbids such enforcement.

In Apple's choice of words, the DOJ is treating the All Writs Act as "an all-powerful magic wand." And, if the government gets what it wants, there will be darker implications at stake in the future beyond the lone iPhone 5c that currently lies at the center of the debate.

"According to the government, short of kidnapping or breaking an express law, the courts can order private parties to do virtually anything the Justice Department and FBI can dream up. The Founders would be appalled," Apple writes in the opening paragraphs of its court document.

Apple vs. US Government, Apple vs. Apple and the Government vs. Itself

Besides citing historical cases and court decisions surrounding the All Writs Act and its use, Apple has already won a recent ruling late last month protecting the company from having to unlock an iPhone connected to a drug deal gone bad in New York.

Naturally, of course, the DOJ appealed the decision and won another ruling in Los Angeles ordering Apple to assist the FBI in hacking into the iPhone in question.

Thus, the two entities are stuck in a deadlock not just against each other but with themselves as well. The only company that can bypass the security measures protecting an Apple iPhone is Apple itself, but Apple says it can't and won't do it.

On the same hand, while both the DOJ and the FBI hold considerable power in government, they do not represent the U.S. government as a whole. In fact, the Congress and the executive branch have also found themselves divided on the issue.

"The Justice Department and FBI are seeking an order from this Court that would force Apple to create exactly the kind of operating system that Congress has thus far refused to require. They are asking this Court to resolve a policy and political issue that is dividing various agencies of the Executive Branch as well as Congress," Apple points out.

Only Apple Can Hack Into Apple, Forever

However, the DOJ and the FBI persist in their orders to have Apple assist them in hacking into the device by creating a backdoor to access the data locked inside the iPhone. The iPhone maker decries the request as an "extraordinary remedy" and says that Apple, as a private company, is no longer linked to both the device and the crime involved in this case.

Moreover, under the government's framework, "any ongoing postpurchase connection between a manufacturer or service provider and a consumer suffices to connect the two in perpetuity - even where, as here, the data on the iPhone is inaccessible to Apple," the company states.

Ultimately, if Apple were to proceed as the government ordered, creating a hackable version of iOS would be unprecedented and "unlike any burden ever imposed under the All Writs Act." Such an enforcement requiring the company to create backdoor to its software, Apple says, would be "offensive to it." As a result, this lone case revolving around the iPhone 5c in question would certainly not be the last request from the U.S. government and surely from foreign governments as well.

Apple Is For The People

In the final paragraph of its appeal to the district court, Apple quotes former Justice Louis Brandeis who warned nearly 90 years ago on what the future may look beyond wiretapping:

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

And with that, Apple sends its final message that while the government means well, the methods it attempts to enforce "are contrary to the rule of law, the democratic process and the rights of the American people."

Photo: Travis Isaacs | Flickr 

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