On March 01 we posted a report that provided readers with a Scribd document covering Judge James Orenstein's 50-page ruling rejecting the Justice Department's argument in a drug case in New York that the 18th century All Writs Act gives prosecutors the authority to compel Apple to help investigators bypass the passcode-protection system on an Apple iPhone seized in a drug investigation. A Reuters report today claims that the U.S. Justice Department resubmitted its case today for Apple to unlock an encrypted iPhone belonging to a drug offender to a higher judge in the Eastern District of New York.
The move was in line with what the department said it would do after a magistrate judge previously sided with Apple, ruling that the Justice Department could not use a 1789 law known as the All Writs Act to compel the tech giant to unlock the phone. Yet the Justice Department cited in their filing the California decision as evidence that the All Writs Act has been used to compel Apple to unlock the phones.
Unlike the phone used by Rizwan Farook in San Bernardino, Feng's phone had an iOS 7 mobile operating system, which is not protected under the same encryption technology.
"Apple has extracted data from iPhones like this one pursuant to All Writs orders numerous times, including as a result of orders issued in the Eastern District of New York," the Justice Department said in its Monday filing.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report adds: "Prosecutors argued that Judge Orenstein overlooked the specifics of the drug case to focus on unfounded fears of future abuses of power. The ruling 'goes far afield of the circumstances of this case and sets forth an unprecedented limitation on federal courts’ authority,'" the prosecutors wrote.
The report further noted that "In its filing, the government also denies it could hack into the phone but chooses not to. 'The government’s ability to bypass the passcode of an Apple iPhone is highly device-specific, and depends in part on the specific hardware and software in place,'" prosecutors wrote.