The US Department of Justice fires back at Apple

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The Department of Justice is strongly backing the FBI in the case over whether Apple needs to create software enabling the FBI to access data on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

In a motion filed on Friday, DoJ is asking the judge in the case to immediately order Apple to cooperate with the FBI investigation. 

The motion filed by DoJ said Apple’s refusal to unlock the iPhone “appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy,” according to the New York Times

“Rather than assist the effort to fully investigate a deadly terrorist attack by obeying this court’s [order], Apple has responded by publicly repudiating that order,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.

The DoJ motion argues that Apple’s technical ability is critical to unlock the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the attackers in the San Bernadino rampage last December.

Earlier this week, CEO Tim Cook posted an open letter on Apple’s website explaining why Apple would resist a judge’s order for the company to help the FBI access data on a single iPhone.

“We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone,” Cook wrote earlier this week. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee decided on Thursday against proposed legislation that would impose criminal penalties on companies which have declined to comply with court orders, according to the Wall Street Journal

Apple’s legal response is expected before February 26. A federal court hearing in California has been scheduled for March 22, according to Reuters. 

You can find the motion here.

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