Apple’s battle with FBI heats up as DOJ accuses company of being ‘false’ and ‘corrosive’


Bruce Sewell

Apple’s battle with the FBI has become hostile after federal prosecutors filed a motion that accuses the Cupertino company’s rhetoric as being “not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights.”

Now Apple has hit back with a statement from Bruce Sewell, general counsel and senior vice president of legal, which describes the motion as a “cheap shot,” and claims the government is trying to “vilify Apple” for disagreeing with the Department of Justice.

Of course, this all stems from the court request that asked Apple to unlock an iPhone used by a San Bernardino shooter for the FBI. The company refused to do that, explaining that it would need to create a backdoor that would put its millions of customers worldwide at risk.

Until now, the battle has been somewhat composed, with neither Apple or law enforcers taking any harsh stabs at one another. But that’s all changed after the DOJ filed its motion.

Shortly after that motion went public, Apple held a conference call with members of the press in which Sewell said, “Everyone should beware, because it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American.”

Here is the full statement, courtesy of The Vergewith emphasis added:

The tone of the brief reads like an indictment. We’ve all heard director Comey and Attorney General Lynch thank Apple for its consistent help in working with law enforcement. Director Comey’s own statement…that there are no demons here? We certainly wouldn’t conclude it from this brief. In 30 years of practice, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a legal brief that was more intended to smear the other side with false accusations and innuendo, and less intended to focus on the real merits of the case. For the first time ever, we see an allegation that Apple has deliberately made changes to block law enforcement requests for access. This should be deeply offensive to everyone that reads it. An unsupported, unsubstantiated effort to vilify Apple rather than confront the issues in the case.

To do this in a brief before a magistrate judge just shows the desperation that the Department of Justice now feels.  We would never respond in kind.But imagine Apple asking a court whether the FBI could be trusted because, there is this real question about whether J. Edgar Hoover ordered the assassination of Kennedy. See as our supporting evidence. We add security features to protect our customers from hackers and criminals. And the FBI should be helping to support us in this because it keeps everyone safe. To suggest otherwise is demeaning. It cheapens the debate and it tries the mask the real and serious issues. I can only conclude that the DoJ is so desperate at this point that it has thrown all decorum to the winds.

Look, we know there are great people in the DoJ and the FBI. We work shoulder to shoulder with them all the time. That’s why this cheap shot brief surprises us so much. We help when we’re asked to. We’re honest about what we can and can’t do. Let’s at least treat one another with respect and get this case before the American people in a responsible way. We are going to court to exercise our legal rights. Everyone should beware, because it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you’re not up-to-date on this fight, you can catch up by vising our Apple vs. FBI page, where you’ll find all of our coverage on this topic so.

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