Brooklyn Case Takes Front Seat in Apple Encryption Fight

A magistrate judge had blocked the government from forcing Apple to help in the Brooklyn case

The Justice Department says it will continue trying to force Apple to reveal a phone's data in a New York drug case.

The government told a Brooklyn judge Friday it still wants an order requiring Apple's cooperation even though it no longer needs the company's help with a phone linked to December's deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

Government lawyers said Friday the case "is not moot, and the government continues to require Apple's assistance in accessing the data it is authorized to search by warrant," according to a letter to the judge obtained by NBC News.

The Justice Department recently dropped a legal fight to compel Apple to help it break into an iPhone used by a gunman in the December attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people.

In Brooklyn, a magistrate judge had blocked the government from forcing Apple to help in the Brooklyn case. The government appealed to a district judge.

Federal officials said the method used to crack the San Bernardino phone — a 5c — won't work on the Brooklyn phone, a 5s with an older operating system, NBC News reported.

Apple already has the tools to extract information from the Brooklyn phone, a law enforcement source told NBC News.

"One of their lawyers told the judge at a hearing that would take only a matter of hours," the source said.

Lawyers for Apple told NBC News on Friday they were disappointed but unsurprised by the government's pursuit of the Brooklyn case. According to Apple's attorneys, both the Brooklyn and San Bernardino cases could set a precedent in court that would jeopardize the security of all encrypted devices.

Apple will file its next response to the government in court April 14.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us