Apple has engaged two prominent lawyers who are well-versed in free-speech rights to represent the company in the legal battle over encryption.
In the filings lodged with a California court, Apple has named Theodore Boutrous and Theodore Olson as lawyers who would represent the company in a court order that requires Apple to offer technical and software related assistance in unlocking an iPhone 5c. The smartphone is tied to the shootings that took place in San Bernardino in 2015.
Tim Cook has called FBI’s request unprecedented. Several tech companies including Google, Facebook, Alphabet and Twitter are supporting Apple.
Federal lawyers have defended the court request, citing authorities like a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which upheld an order compelling a telephone company to deliver support for setting up a device that could record telephone numbers.
The court suggests that the All Writs Act of 1789, authorized the court order. The scope of that ruling may target Apple when it makes an official response in the next few days.
However, Apple is highly likely to challenge the court’s request with the inclusion of the First Amendment’s guarantee of speech rights. The U.S. has a solid guarantee of speech rights when compared to other countries.
Experts suggest that Apple may argue that the court’s request is unlawful compelled speech.
The iPhone 5c in question was used by Rizwan Farook, who was responsible for the San Bernardino shooting with his wife. The shooting killed 14 people and wounded 22 more.
U.S. prosecutors want to pick the unfortunate shooting for testing the encryption battle with big tech companies. The shooting involves emotional impact as well as highlighting the dangers of armed militants.
It is noteworthy that Farook just used the iPhone 5c, but it was owned by his employer.
Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami, said the legal fight is very significant for Apple. If the company loses the case, it will be forced to create a forensic tool for the government that can be used for decrypting its phones. Such a step has the likelihood of damaging Apple’s global brand name.
If the government demands are met with, then many people who are concerned about the security of their devices may stop using Apple devices in the near term resulting in financial loss for the company.
Apple was asked to submit its response by Tuesday, but the deadline has now been moved to Friday.
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