Below is a copy of the 3 page actual court order, in relevant parts. While the order includes modifying the device’s software to accomplish the task, if necessary, it clearly and explicitly narrows the search to one particular device. The order does not require Apple to modify its operating system, iOS, for use by everyone else. The control of that modified software remains in the hands of Apple who could then seal it away or “burn” it at Apple’s discretion.
Having been involved in the computer software industry for some 50 years — since the dawn of commercial computers and continuing to personal computers and smart phones of today, and having modified operating system software — Apple’s arguments are without merit. In my opinion, Apple is playing politics.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
No. ED 15 – 0451M, Feb. 16, 2016
[PROPOSED] ORDER COMPELLING APPLE, IINC. TO ASSIST AGENTS IN SEARCH
Note: The capitalization below appears in the actual court filing and was not added.
For good cause shown, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
- Apple shall assist in enabling the search of a cellular telephone, Apple make: iPhone 5C, Model: A1532, P/N:MGFG2LL/A, S/N:FFMNQ3MTG2DJ . . . in obtaining access to the data on the SUBJECT DEVICE.”
- (2) it will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port . . . .”
- Apple’s reasonable technical assistance may include . . . signed iPhone Software file, recovery bundle, or other Software Image File (“SIF”) that can be loaded onto the SUBJECT DEVICE. The SIF . . . will not modify the iOS on the actual phone, the user data partition or system partition on the device’s flash memory. The SIF will be coded by Apple with a unique identifier of the phone so that the SIF would only load and execute on the SUBJECT DEVICE.
Below is a copy of the Introduction section of Apple’s 65 page motion. Contrast Apple’s arguments that seem to be a response to issues not warranted by the order and raising issues that are under Apple’s control. Apple’s opening sentence reads, “This is not a case about one isolated iPhone,” setting the tone of Apple’s opposition of the order. Apple raises issues of forced speech – compelling a private entity to do something – in violation of the 1st Amendment. It broadens and extends the issue to that of modifying its software would imperil the rights of all owners having Apple’s iOS operating system.
Furthermore, an apparent political motive of Apple comes forth by its criticism of the government for not first going to Congress to change the laws, as it so believes is necessary, and stifling public debate on the issues not warranted by the court order (see last quote paragraph below).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA EASTERN DIVISION
ED No. CM 16-10 (SP), Feb. 25, 2016
APPLE INC’S MOTION TO VACATE ORDER COMPELLING APPLE INC. TO ASSIST AGENTS IN SEARCH, AND OPPOSITION TO GOVERNMENT’S MOTION TO COMPEL ASSISTANCE
This is not a case about one isolated iPhone. Rather, this case is about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld: the ability to force companies like Apple to undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe. The government demands that Apple create a back door to defeat the encryption on the iPhone, making its users’ most confidential and personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, hostile foreign agents, and unwarranted government surveillance.
There are two important and legitimate interests in this case: the needs of law enforcement and the privacy and personal safety interests of the public. . . . But rather than pursue new legislation, the government backed away from Congress and turned to the courts, a forum ill-suited to address the myriad competing interests . . . .
The order demanded by the government compels Apple to create a new operating system—effectively a “back door” to the iPhone—that Apple believes is too dangerous to build.
This would make it easier to unlock the iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of passcode combinations with the speed of a modern computer. In short, the government wants to compel Apple to create a crippled and insecure product.
But rather than pursue new legislation, the government backed away from Congress and turned to the courts, a forum ill-suited to address the myriad competing interests, potential ramifications, and unintended consequences presented by the government’s unprecedented demand. And more importantly, by invoking “terrorism” and moving ex parte behind closed courtroom doors, the government sought to cut off debate and circumvent thoughtful analysis.
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