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“Government Thinks Of The All Writs Act As A Powerful Magic Wand” : Apple’s Final Legal Response Against FBI

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Apple and FBI have been exchanging a volley of words and arguments — which — have become colder and more hostile over the past two weeks. In its final legal response before a court hearing next week, Apple has reiterated its previous stand on the misuse of All Writs Act by the Government and also dissected many technical arguments put forward by FBI in its filing.

The Government attempts to rewrite history by portraying the (All Writs) Act as an all-powerful magic wand rather than the limited procedural tool it is. According to the government, short of kidnapping or breaking an express law, the courts can order private parties to do virtually anything the Justice Department and FBI can dream up,

said Apple in its response.

It further said that the All Writs Act, dating back to 1789, “cannot be stretched to fit this case” and there were no prior cases to support the current demands of government to compel any private company for “burdensome forensics work, create new software, or compel speech to assist law enforcement.”

Next Apple took the major technical arguments put forward by FBI and contradicted them, essentially indicating towards the government’s misunderstanding of technology.

While mentioning the FBI’s mistake (which has already been admitted by Congress) to reset the iCloud password on the phone, Apple counteracted their argument that iCloud data backup was protected by device password.

The statement that even if the device did perform an iCloud backup “the user data would still be encrypted with the encryption key formed from the 256 bit UID and the user’s passcode” is incorrect. Data backed up to iCloud is not encrypted with a user’s passcode,

said  Erik Neuenschwander in its filing on behalf of Apple.

Then Apple also refuted the claim made by FBI that Apple logs keystrokes typed by the user as well as the claim that since Mail, Notes, and Photos were turned off on the device, they would not have gone on iCloud.

In the filing, Apple also came down hard on the government’s accusation of Apple using its high encryption tech and such cases as a marketing stunt, calling it “a reckless and unfounded allegation”.

“The idea that Apple enhances its security to confound law enforcement is nonsense. Apple’s “chain of trust” process—which follows accepted industry best practices—is designed to secure its mobile platform against the never-ending threat from hackers and cyber-criminals,” read the filing by Apple. 

The filing also rejected Government’s claims that Apple granted additional access to other National Governments in similar cases saying that any such access was too dangerous to allow.

Apple uses the same security protocols everywhere in the world. Apple has never made user data, whether stored on the iPhone or in iCloud, more technologically accessible to any country’s Government.

said Apple.

A court hearing is scheduled next week on March 22 in the U.S. District Court in Riverside where it will be decided by the court whether to uphold or vacate its order of Feb 16 which has led to this debate of privacy and security all over the world.

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