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NY Judge Rules in Favor of Apple in iPhone Unlocking Case

A ruling in Brooklyn against the use of the All Writs Act in extracting data from user devices may help Apple in it's battle with the FBI in San Bernardino.

· Mobile Zone

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While Apple and the FBI are still duking it out over whether Apple is legally compelled to develop a version of iOS with a backdoor for the feds, a separate case has been resolved in favor of Apple in New York. Magistrate judge James Orenstein issued a 50-page ruling, stating that Apple is not bound under the All Writs Act of 1789 to extract data from a phone at the government's request.

The case in question involved the phone of a drug dealer that was locked by a password. Though Apple has generally agreed to provide data to the government when asked for it, when Judge Orenstein was given the application from the government to acquire the data on the iPhone, the debate in Brooklyn began, citing issues with a 1985 ruling that stated the government could use the All Writs Act for any requests not otherwise covered by the law. However, that same decision also states that the act does not authorize "ad hoc writs whenever compliance with statutory procedures appears inconvenient or less appropriate." From there, the argument moved towards whether the government was filling in gaps that Congress had not considered, or seizing power that Congress had chosen not to grant.

In this case, it was ruled that to force Apple to extract data from a locked iPhone (which is now impossible as of iOS 8 or 9), was illegal, as the All Writs Act cannot comply a business to work for the government or against its own self-interest. 

The ruling comes when Apple is facing a similar battle in San Bernardino. An iPhone running iOS 9 was found, and was used by one of the terrorists behind the mass shooting that took place on December 2nd, 2015. The FBI and the California courts have ordered Apple to create a new version of iOS with a backdoor for the FBI, but Apple has chosen to fight the order over fears that this would lead to similar requests and threaten consumer privacy and security. 

While the two cases are different in terms of the request, Apple will be speaking in front of Congress to explain the importance of the San Bernardino case, and the ruling of another Federal Judge against the All Writs Act will certainly help their case. 

You can read Judge Orenstein's ruling in its entirety here

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