A New York judge just ruled that the FBI can't force Apple to unlock iPhones

A judge in Brooklyn has ruled that the US can’t force Apple to help break an iPhone’s passcode security. 

No, it’s not the San Bernardino shooting case, a very similar situation where the FBI is seeking to compel Apple to provide custom software to help them access data on a criminal’s iPhone.

Instead, the iPhone in question belongs to Jun Feng, a meth dealer. The government tried to use the All Writs Act to compel Apple to help them access encrypted data on Feng’s phone last October, in a preview of the controversy that would explode around San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone. 

Apple lawyers argued at the time that what the government was asking was for the power to force it to break the security on its devices. “We’re being forced to become an agent of law enforcement,” an Apple laywer said in court. 

On Monday, magistrate judge James Orenstein ruled in Apple’s favour:

From the ruling: 

I conclude that under the circumstances of this case, the government has failed to establish either that the AWA permits the relief it seeks or that, even if such an order is authorised, the discretionary factors I must consider weigh in favour of granting the motion….

As explained below, after reviewing the facts in the record and the parties’ arguments, I conclude that none of those factors justifies imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the government’s investigation against its will. I therefore deny the motion.

Here’s the whole ruling:



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