Apple to FBI: You Can’t Force Us to Hack the San Bernardino iPhone

After a week of anticipation, Apple today filed to dismiss a court order to assist the government in hacking an iPhone, bringing a variety of legal arguments to bear.

Apple acknowledged on a call with reporters that the FBI’s demands that it write software designed to weaken the security of its phones is without precedent. Its primary argument, unsurprisingly, takes on just how outdated and inapplicable the law the FBI has invoked is. The All Writs Act the government is citing as its authority to compel Apple’s assistance, the company argues, doesn’t give the courts the power to order the kind of assistance the government wants—primarily because that assistance would be unduly burdensome for Apple to fulfill.

The company further calls on its First and Fifth Amendment rights, which might seem out of joint, until you realize that code has long been legally recognized as a form of speech. Most of all, the dismissal drives home its point that this is not a case for the courts to decide, because of the alarming precedent it could set.

“This is not a case about one isolated iPhone,” writes Apple attorney Marc Zwillinger in today’s brief. “Rather, this case is about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld: the ability to force companies like Apple to undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe.”

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