Apple has claimed that computer languages should be protected by the first amendment’s freedom of speech clause. The US government disagrees.
In a brief filed in federal court, the Department of Justice disputed Apple’s argument that writing computer code is protected by the First Amendment.
The government also claims that tech companies fighting against the FBI’s request are raising unnecessary alarm bells. Tech companies including Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, are standing beside Apple in its fight against the FBI.
“The government and the community need to know what is on the terrorist’s phone, and the government needs Apple’s assistance to find out,” the brief states.
The FBI is asking a federal court to uphold an order issued last month that would force Apple to break into the iPhone. A court hearing is scheduled for March 22.
“(T)he order compels conduct — namely, the removal of barriers from Farook’s iPhone — with an incidental effect on ‘speech,'” the DOJ wrote. “That does not amount to a First Amendment violation.”
Apple has argued that creating a backdoor into the iOS platform would also exploit its system for hackers. The company also warns that it could lead to other governmental demands in the future.
“Apple desperately wants — desperately needs — this case not to be ‘about one isolated iPhone,'” the Justice Department argued Thursday. “But there is probable cause to believe there is evidence of a terrorist attack on that phone, and our legal system gives this court the authority to see that it can be searched pursuant to a lawful warrant.”
The US government has also spoke out against Apple’s claim that it would be burdensome to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone.
“Apple is one of the richest and most tech-savvy companies in the world, and it is more than able to comply with the (court) order,” The Justice Department wrote, saying Apple had income of $200 billion last year — “more than the operating budget for California.”