Justice Department: Apple’s refusal to unlock San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone is a marketing strategy


iPhone 5c blue

Earlier today, the Justice Department stepped in, and filed a motion to force Apple to comply with the court order to help FBI unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers.

In the filing (via New York Times), the DOJ claims that Apple’s refusal to unlock terrorist’s iPhone is a marketing strategy.

Apple’s refusal “appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy” rather than a legal rationale, prosecutors said in a court filing that further escalated the confrontation between the Obama administration and Apple.

“This is not the end of privacy,” the Justice Department declared, a mocking reference to Apple’s rationale for contesting the court order prosecutors obtained from a judge directing Apple to help them break into the phone.

FBI wants Apple to disable an “auto-erase” feature that permanently deletes the data inside after 10 failed password attempts, eliminate the delay that locks you out of the iPhone if the wrong passcode is entered and also implement a method that allows FBI to enter the passcode electronically, so it can unlock the terrorist’s iPhone by “brute-force”, trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

DOJ has accused Apple of exaggerating how difficult it would be to come up with a solution to comply with the court order. The prosecutors believe that it is not more difficult than providing a new software update, which the company does regularly. Apple executives have acknowledged that it was technically possible, but it was unwarranted for the government to develop something that does not exist.

Tim Cook in an open letter has publicly stated that Apple plans to oppose the order as it would set a “dangerous precedent”, and the implications of the demands are “chilling”. Technology companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter have issued statements supporting Apple’s fight against FBI.

Apple has been given more time to officially respond to the court order. Apple now has time until February 26 instead of Tuesday.

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