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Apple prevails in forced iPhone unlock case in New York court

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Baku, March 1 AZERTAC

A federal judge in New York ruled in favor of Apple on Monday, saying that an obscure Colonial-era law did not authorize him to force the firm to lift data from an iPhone at the government’s request, Washington Post reports.

The ruling is not binding in any other court, but it takes on an outsize importance as the U.S. government battles Apple in a separate case in California over whether the tech firm should help unlock a phone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terrorist attack in December.

The two cases involve different versions of iPhone’s operating system and vastly different requests for technical help, but they both turn on whether a law from 1789 known as the All Writs Act can be applied to cases in which the government cannot get at encrypted data stored on suspects’ devices.

Magistrate Judge James Orenstein in Brooklyn, who sits in the Eastern District of New York, has become the first federal judge to rule that the act does not permit a court to order companies to pull encrypted data off a customer’s phone or tablet.

In a 50-page opinion disdainful of the government’s arguments, Orenstein found that the All Writs Act does not apply in instances where Congress had the opportunity but failed to create an authority for the government to get the type of help it was seeking, such as having firms ensure they have a way to obtain data from encrypted phones. He wrote that the government’s interpretation of the 200-year-old law was “absurd” in that it would authorize what they were seeking even if every member of Congress had voted against granting such authority.

was disappointed in the ruling and would appeal.

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