The rhetoric of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) over the iPhone encryption related to the San Bernardino case was “false,” according to the Department of Justice in a filing to U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) obtained a court last month that required Apple to “provide reasonable technical assistance” to unlock the iPhone owned by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the terrorists who killed 14 people and injured 22 others in the San Bernardino mass shooting.
Apple rejected the court order and argued that the FBI was demanding it to create a “back door” or “master key” that could unlock any iPhone and undermine freedom and liberty. CEO Tim Cook said the government’s demand was “bad for America” because the case about the iPhone encryption was not just about privacy but also public safety.
In its filing, the DOJ wrote: “Apple’s rhetoric is not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights: the courts, the Fourth Amendment, longstanding precedent and venerable laws, and the democratically elected branches of government.”
The DOJ also stated called Apple’s arguments “diversion” citing as it tried to alarm the court with issues such as network security, encryption, back doors and privacy and invoked larger debates before the Congress and in the media.
“Apple desperate desperately wants—desperately needs this case not to be about one isolated phone,” according to the DOJ.
Apple is fully capable of complying with the court order
The DOJ emphasized that Apple is “fully capable” of complying with the court’s order since it only needs to set aside, at least, six out of its 100,000 employees for as little as two weeks, which the agency considered “not unreasonable.”
According to the DOJ, the court’s order was modest because it only applies to a single iPhone. The court did not compel Apple to unlock other iPhones or to provide a universal “master key” or “back door” to the government.
The DOJ added that the government and the community needed to find out the information on the iPhone owned by the terrorists, which can only be accomplished with the help of Apple.
The agency emphasized that the tech giant “attacked the All Writs Act as archaic, the court’s order as leading to a police state, and the FBI investigation as shoddy instead of complying.
Apple raised technological barriers
The DOJ pointed out that the case was about specific facts not broad generalities and Apple deliberately raised technological barriers since the company now stands between a lawful warrant and an iPhone containing evidence related to the terrorist attack that killed 14 Americans.
The DOJ argued, “Apple alone can remove those barriers so that the FBI can search the phone, and it can do so without undue burden. Under those specific circumstances, Apple can be compelled to give aid. That is not lawless tyranny. Rather, it is ordered liberty vindicating the rule of law. This Court can, and should, stand by the Order. Apple can, and should, comply with it.”
Mr. Cook previously stated that Apple will stand tall on its principles, and it is willing to take the case to the Supreme Court.
Last month, the tech giant won a case involving the government’s demand to unlock the iPhone owned a drug dealer who pleaded guilty. The federal judge in Brooklyn ruled that he does not have the authority to compel Apple to help prosecutors bypass the security features of the iPhone.
The government submitted a motion to overturn the court’s ruling. Apple was given two weeks by the federal judge in Brooklyn to respond to the government’s appeal.