The U.S. Justice Department will continue pushing for a court order forcing Apple to help investigators unlock the iPhone 5s belonging to Brooklyn drug dealer Jun Feng, as part of a case that dates back to October 2015, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“The government’s application is not moot, and the government continues to require Apple’s assistance in accessing the data that it is authorized to search by warrant,’’ the prosecutors write in a brief letter to U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie.
Like its recent high-profile standoff with the FBI over unlocking the passcode-protected iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook, Apple has said it “would be impossible” for the company to access data on a locked iPhone running iOS 8 or later without creating a modified software version, which it refuses to do.
In late February, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled that the FBI lacked the legal authority to force Apple to bypass the iPhone’s passcode, and that the prosecution’s use of the 1789 All Writs Act was an unconstitutional overreach.
The U.S. Justice Department formally appealed the decision with U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie in early March in an effort to overturn Orenstein’s ruling, and today’s brief court filing reiterates that the FBI will not back down from its request without a fight.
While the FBI dropped its San Bernardino case with Apple after enlisting a private party to unlock the shooter’s iPhone 5c, FBI director James Comey said earlier this week that the undisclosed method does not work on newer devices like the iPhone 5s or later.
Apple remains committed to device encryption and will continue fighting this legal matter.
Update: In Massachusetts, Apple has been ordered to help the FBI gain access to data on an iPhone belonging to a Boston gang member accused of shooting a rival gang member.
A judge originally gave the order for Apple to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to the FBI on February 1, but the case was just unsealed on April 8. Apple has not complied with the order.
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