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Department of Justice appeals ruling in New York iPhone unlocking case

Department of Justice appeals ruling in New York iPhone unlocking case

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The Department of Justice is pushing to appeal its defeat last week in a New York iPhone unlocking case. The government sought to unlock an iPhone used in a methamphetamine smuggling operation through the powers granted by the All Writs Act, but was vigorously rejected by Magistrate Judge Orenstein in a 50-page decision handed down on February 29th. Now, the government is hoping to overturn that decision in appeals court. The case is similar to a simultaneous case playing out in the wake of the San Bernardino attacks. In both cases, Apple has strenuously resisted government orders to break the security measures that protect against unlocking.

"This case in no way upends the balance between privacy and security," the government writes in the latest brief, arguing the order only "permits reasonable searches including ones where the government has a warrant." The appeals court must now decide whether to hear the argument and possibly overturn the Orenstein ruling.

Apple is expected to vigorously resist the order. "Judge Orenstein ruled the FBI's request would 'thoroughly undermine fundamental principles of the Constitution' and we agree," said Apple in a statement following the filing. "We share the Judge's concern that misuse of the All Writs Act would start us down a slippery slope that threatens everyone's safety and privacy."