This Is Apple’s Next Move in Its Fight With the FBI

Apple Supporters Protest In Front Of FBI Headquarters In Washington DC
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 23: The official seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seen on an iPhone's camera screen outside the J. Edgar Hoover headquarters February 23, 2016 in Washington, DC. Last week a federal judge ordered Apple to write software that would allow law enforcement agencies investigating the December 2, 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, to hack into one of the attacker's iPhone. Apple is fighting the order, saying it would create a way for hackers, foreign governments, and other nefarious groups to invade its customers' privacy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Apple has filed an appeal against a court order that it assist federal investigators in breaking into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino killers.

The company filed formal objections on Tuesday to the order that was issued by a federal judge in Riverside, California that Apple (AAPL) help the FBI to gain access to an iPhone 5C that was in San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s possession.

That court order has set off a mammoth fight between the government and Apple, one that had CEO Tim Cook penning a public letter to Apple’s customers calling the government’s demands “chilling.”

This appeal was filed, as Apple stated in its two-page document, “in an abundance of caution.” While the company had already filed a motion to vacate the order last Thursday, under court rules, it could have been argued that Apple had waived its right to fight the order if it did not file formal objections by Tuesday.


On Tuesday, both sides testified in a U.S. House Judiciary Committee meeting, with FBI director James Comey calling the court ruling that forces Apple to cooperate “potentially precedential” in other cases where the agency might seek similar help from other technology companies.

Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell told the congressional panel that the tool the FBI was asking Apple to make, which bypasses the phone’s security and allows the agency access to data, would apply to any iPhone. “This is not about the San Bernardino case. This is about the safety and security of every iPhone that is in use today,” Sewell said.

Apple had previously received a boost from a federal judge on Monday, who in a separate case in Brooklyn, rejected the Department of Justice’s use of the broad powers of the 1789 All Writs Act to force Apple to do its bidding in San Bernardino.

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