U.S. Justice Department calls Apple’s legal challenge a ‘marketing strategy’

In a further salvo against Apple for its refusal to unlock an iPhone for the FBI, the New York Times reports that the U.S. Justice Department has now filed court documents demanding that a judge immediately order Apple to provide the necessary technical tools, precluding any opportunity for the company to provide a formal response. Prosecutors for the Justice Department are asking a federal judge to enforce the court’s order of Feb. 16, stating in court documents that Apple’s refusal to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhone “appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy,” rather than any kind of legal rationale. “Rather than assist the effort to fully investigate a deadly terrorist attack by obeying this court’s order of February 16, 2016,” the latest filing reads, “Apple has responded by publicly repudiating that order.”

Following an order by a federal judge earlier this week to unlock an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded with an open letter, reiterating the company’s stance on digital privacy and stating that the company would challenge the order to create a “backdoor” for government access to encrypted content, citing “implications far beyond the legal case at hand.” Apple’s lawyers are expected to file a formal response to the order by next Friday, likely challenging it on the basis that the Justice Department’s demands and the judge’s order exceed the government’s statutory powers in gathering and searching for evidence under the All Writs Act — a law dating to 1789 which is being used as the court’s justification for ordering Apple to comply.

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