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Apple Won't Be Forced to Hack iPhone In Drug Case

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Feb 29, 2016, 6:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

A federal judge sided with Apple in a case involving a locked iPhone in New York City today. The Justice Department sought to use the 1789 All Writs Act to compel Apple to help unlock an iPhone so the agency could more fully investigate a suspect in a drug case. Apple refused and the Justice Department took Apple to court. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein in New York's Eastern District wrote, "Apple is not doing anything to keep law enforcement agents from conducting their investigation. Apple has not conspired with [the defendant] to make the data on his device inaccessible. The government's complaint is precisely that Apple is doing nothing at all." Orenstein further argued that it is more prudent to use modern views of privacy and technology than those of the Founding Fathers, who wrote the law more than 200 years ago. A Justice Department representative said the agency was disappointed with the ruling and would take it up with a district-level judge. This case is similar to one Apple is facing over the iPhone owned by the shooter in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Apple is refusing to help the FBI unlock that iPhone, too, and the government is using the All Writs Act to force Apple's hand. Today's ruling comes a day before Apple and the FBI will present arguments over the San Bernardino matter before Congress, and it could impact the outcome of those hearings.

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