Apple says the government “attempts to rewrite history” with its request for help unlocking an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters by stretching the law far wider than the Constitution and the lawmakers have intended.
“The Founders would be appalled,” Apple wrote in its last court filing before it squares off against the government in federal court in California at a hearing on March 22.
“The government … contends that because this Court issued a valid search warrant, it can order innocent third parties to provide any service the government deems ‘necessary’ or ‘appropriate’ to accomplish the search.”
The FBI is asking Apple to write software that would lift security features preventing the FBI from cracking the passcode on the phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people in the San Bernardino shooting on Dec. 2.
As its legal basis, the FBI’s court order relies on the All Writs Act, a broad 1789 law that gives courts power to, among other things, compel companies’ cooperation in investigations and has been used by the government for that purpose.
Apple argues that the U.S. attorneys are misinterpreting prior cases and their application of the law is overreaching: “The government attempts to rewrite history by portraying the Act as an all-powerful magic wand rather than the limited procedural tool it is,” Apple’s lawyers write, comparing the request to “conscription” of the company and its employees that would “pose a severe threat” to Apple’s autonomy.
Read more: NPR