Connectivity

Apple Uses a Barrage of Legal Arguments in San Bernardino Case

Apple asks a federal court to overturn the order that it further assist the FBI in a terrorism investigation, saying it would be incredibly cumbersome to comply.

Apple is bringing a wide range of legal arguments to bear in its attempt to get out of having to unlock a killer’s iPhone for the FBI.

In a motion filed Thursday, the company asked a federal court in California to overturn an order that it work with the FBI to get into the phone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Apple’s fascinating filing contends that the order violates the First Amendment by compelling speech, in the form of computer code.

Apple also says it violates the Fifth Amendment by “conscripting a private party with an extremely attenuated connection to the crime to do the government’s bidding”—a violation of due process. And, the company contends, helping law enforcement get into this phone and others would unfairly burden Apple by requiring it to set up a new “hacking department to service government requests.”

It’s hard to imagine this case not going to the U.S. Supreme Court, given its complexity and importance. As FBI Chief James Comey said Thursday, balancing the need for strong encryption technologies with the demands of law enforcement is “the hardest question I’ve seen in government.”

(Read more: Document Cloud, Wall Street Journal)