Apple fights back in court, refusing to hack into iPhone for FBI

Updated: 2016-02-26 09:21


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Apple fights back in court, refusing to hack into iPhone for FBI

People gather at a small rally in support of Apple's refusal to help the FBI access the cell phone of a gunman involved in the killings of 14 people in San Bernardino, in Santa Monica, California, United States, February 23, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc. on Thursday took to the court to refuse help with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on hacking into the encrypted iPhone of a terrorist killer.

Apple asked Judge Sheri Pym of the US District Court, Central California, to reverse her order on Feb 16 that the Silicon Valley company help the FBI access the work phone of Syed Farook, who together with his wife Tashfeen Malik shot dead 14 people on Dec 2 last year in San Bernardino, California. The couple were killed by police.

While three other phones were destroyed by the couple, the iPhone 5c owned by San Bernardino County, where Farook worked at the public health department, has a security feature that erases data after 10 unsuccessful unlocking attempts. The FBI requested Apple's help to unlock the smartphone.

In his argument, however, Apple's Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook called the move "an unprecedented step" threatening the security of customers.

In Apple's filing Thursday, the company's first response through the court, rather than fighting back through the court of public opinion in the past week, Apple accused the government of seeking "dangerous power" by proposing a "boundless interpretation" of the law.

The US Department of Justice filed a motion with the court on Feb 19 to compel Apple to comply with the judge's order, noting that the company had been cooperative and alleging that its recent refusal "appears to be based on its concerns for its business model and public brand marketing strategy."