Global Independent Analytics

Apple hits back at 'corrosive' claim by US government

Apple is appealing against a court order that it unlock the iPhone, calling it "unprecedented".

BBC News reporting: It seems that lately Apple gets in the news not thanks to its groundbreaking smartphones, tablets or notebooks, but because of its prolonged struggle with the US government, which the tech giant has recently accused of trying to “smear” it with “desperate” and “unsubstantiated” claims.

The war began anew, after a brief cooldown, when the US Department of Justice (DOJ) renewed its demand for access to data on the iPhone owned by San Bernardino gunman Rizwan Farook. Farook and his wife killed 14 people in the Californian city last December before police fatally shot them. The FBI tried to break into the phone, but was unable to, and that’s when they asked Apple to create a so-called “back door” that would help them to do so.

In response, Apple is appealing against a court order that it unlock the iPhone, with the company’s chief executive, Tim Cook calling it "dangerous", "chilling" and "unprecedented". It has argued the government is asking for a security hack that could be exploited by both governments and criminals.

However, there’s another side to the problem. DOJ claims that China’s government got access to more than 4000 iPhones with Apple’s help.  Prosecutors claim Apple's own data shows that China demanded information from Apple regarding more than 4,000 iPhones in the first half of 2015, and Apple produced data 74% of the time. The DOJ also said that Apple's stance was "corrosive" to institutions trying to protect "liberty and rights". It seems that everyone adheres to their own definition of these words.

The DOJ claimed in its court filing that Apple had attacked the FBI investigation as "shoddy" and tried to portray itself as a "guardian of Americans' privacy".

This "rhetoric is not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights: the courts, the Fourth Amendment, longstanding precedent and venerable laws, and the democratically elected branches of government", the DOJ said.

On the other side, Apple's lawyer, Bruce Sewell, told reporters that the tone of the latest DOJ court submission "reads like an indictment".

He said: "Everybody should beware because it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American, nothing could be further from the truth."

A hearing into the case is scheduled for 22 March in a California federal court. Apple's Mr. Cook has said he is willing to take the case to the Supreme Court.

By Stefan Paraber for GIA

EXPERT OPINION

Joshua Tartakovsky

The prosecution is trying to present this a single case of trying to obtain data that will help in the investigation. But in fact, the FBI is seeking a back-door into all iPhones so that none of us will be able to enjoy even a minimum level of privacy. Indeed, as Apple attorney Bruce Sewell said “Everybody should beware because it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American, nothing could be further from the truth." What the US government is pursuing is the esscence of anti-Americanism as it seeks to erode civil rights and privacy rights. Constitutional lawyer KrisAnne Hall made a convincing case in her article for GIA (“Apple Customer Letter: Constitutionally Sound”, February 19, 2016), on how the FBI’s pressure violates the 4th Amendment, Article 6 and Article 3 of the Constitution. KrisAnne Hall writes: “Article 6 section 2 tells us that any action by the federal government that is not "made pursuant" to the Constitution, is not the supreme law of the land and therefore not binding upon the States.”In other words, the FBI is violating the Constitution, it has no right to impose itself. Actually, FBI is de facto seeking to assume the role of a Big Brother. Who would have imagined that such things would happen in the United States? We often hear about the “cruel dictatorship” in China where the government monitors everything. But what are we to do when the US government carries out intrusions into our privacy and its creeping reach means that a faceless government bureaucrat will know about every message we write and picture we take?

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