War of Words Between Apple and Feds Over San Bernardino iPhone Intensifies

Apple and the Department of Justice clashed again this week over the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. Prosecutors filed a new motion Thursday, reiterating their demands that Apple should help them to crack the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

The DOJ has already filed similar motions twice, and won a court order to that effect. However, Apple is appealing that court order, arguing that it would set a dangerous precedent. Prosecutors shot back Thursday, calling Apple’s rhetoric “not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights” in their filing.

They also asserted that complying with the court order wouldn’t place an unreasonable burden on the company. “The corporation—which grosses hundreds of billions of dollars a year—would need to set aside as few as six of its 100,000 employees for perhaps as little as two weeks,” the DOJ argued. Prosecutors also implied that Apple knowingly added security to iPhones to make them warrant-proof, while still retaining control over the devices through its own services.

Apple has received support from a wide range of tech companies and civil liberties organizations for its position, with companies like AT&T, Twitter, Facebook and Google coming to its support through amicus filings. However, prosecutors called the industry’s support for Apple “a diversion” in their filing this week, arguing that Apple and its supporters tried to mislead the media and the public about the true nature of the case.

As one might expect, the filing didn’t go over very with Apple. “The tone of the brief reads like an indictment,” said Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell on a conference call with reporters following the DOJ filing. ” 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,” he added, according to The Verge.

Apple and the DOJ are scheduled to make their case in court in a little over a week, but we can expect that both sides will continue to trade shots in public in the coming days as well.

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