Judge draws parallels between iPhone search request and lethal injection drugs

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2015
Ordering Apple to unlock an iPhone's data against its will is akin to ordering a drug company to supply drugs for a lethal injection, a judge commented in the ongoing dispute over a Justice Department request.




Magistrate Judge James Orenstein used the analogy on Monday in explaining why he might not have the authority to force Apple to help with a specific iPhone, which is tied to a secret case also involving the FBI and the DEA, the BBC reported. "What you're asking [Apple] to do is do work for you," Orenstein told Justice Department lawyer Saritha Komatireddy.

Komatireddy called the analogy "somewhat inflammatory," leading Orenstein to reply that it was "purposefully so."

The judge is inviting both sides to submit further letters by Wednesday in response to questions raised.

Last week Apple expressed reluctance about fulfilling the unlock request, even though the device is based on iOS 7 and therefore partly vulnerable to Apple intrusion. iOS 8 and 9 use full-disk encryption that Apple claims even it can't break.

On Monday Komatireddy challenged Apple on the matter, noting that the company "has been doing this for years without any objection." Orenstein put the issue to Apple lawyer Marc Zwillinger, who in turn suggested the company is more worried about customer data in view of high-profile hacks.

"Right now, Apple is aware that customer data is under siege from a variety of different directions," Zwillinger added.

Apple has made privacy a recurring theme in its marketing since 2013, when leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden helped expose mass surveillance programs and the general vulnerability of Internet and device security. Apple is believed to have been a target of the NSA, though the company has denied cooperating.

More recently Apple and other technology companies have been pressured to create "backdoors" for American law enforcement. CEO Tim Cook has taken an active stance against that concept, which critics have argued would not only simplify mass surveillance but render systems more susceptible to hacking.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 63
    "...the company 'has been doing this for years without any objection.' "

    Drives me nuts when my lawyer friends slam me for slippery slope arguments, yet they resort to them without abandon (although it's a somewhat reverse slope used above).

    I believe politicians are the only entities who are required, seemingly by law, to never change their stance on any position taken in their first 365 days of office.
  • Reply 2 of 63
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,453member
    okay that is an interesting way of looking at it.

    I have said this before, it like the police knowing someone hid something in the woods but have no idea where and they lack the tools to find it and they can not force the criminal to tell them where it is at. In this case the got the prize in their had so they do not need to find it but lack the tool to open the prize
  • Reply 3 of 63
    xixoxixo Posts: 417member
    privacy is a disease

    technology is the cure
  • Reply 4 of 63
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post



    okay that is an interesting way of looking at it.



    I have said this before, it like the police knowing someone hid something in the woods but have no idea where and they lack the tools to find it and they can not force the criminal to tell them where it is at. In this case the got the prize in their had so they do not need to find it but lack the tool to open the prize

     

    Well, in a trial, evidence that's not supposed to be known by the jury, poisons the well, it can lead to a mistrial. So, I can see how that analogy would go.

  • Reply 5 of 63
    Analog cellular phones conversations were unencrypted. With the more to digital, conversations became encrypted. It has been that way for years. Were is the outrage the digital cell phone conversation are now encrypted?
  • Reply 6 of 63

    Cool, Iike this judge..... now I would have not gone that far - but a comparison to slavery would have been good.  

     

    If this is so important to the Justice department that they have to jump through hoops - you can be quite sure that their case is weak or non-existent that they would rely on a hail mary play.

     

    It is about time that we push back and err on the side of privacy.

  • Reply 7 of 63
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    If detectives can't crack a case without cracking a phone, they're not doing their job. iPhone wasn't even invented 10 years ago how were all these cases handled before??
  • Reply 8 of 63
    "has been doing this for years without any objection."

    For the benefit of Attorney Komatireddy, shall I list the despicable incidents and countless violations of people's constitutional rights that have been rationalized away by such statements. What does an attorney say when confronted with the fact they have no valid argument? Just say, Well, everybody does it so it must be okay."

    Slavery, murder, police brutality ... they might a good way to start such a list.
  • Reply 9 of 63
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,075member

    I think it is an apt comparison.

  • Reply 10 of 63
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,453member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post



    "...the company 'has been doing this for years without any objection.' "



    Drives me nuts when my lawyer friends slam me for slippery slope arguments, yet they resort to them without abandon (although it's a somewhat reverse slope used above).



    I believe politicians are the only entities who are required, seemingly by law, to never change their stance on any position taken in their first 365 days of office.

    Yeah been down this path lawyers and company policie. Court could head in both direction on these kinds of issue. Some times they say well you have history of doing this so that fact alone mean you would either continue to do it or should continue to do it. Other times they say the past has no baring on the current situation which could be good or bad to you. They are not uniform that is for sure.

  • Reply 11 of 63
    I think that if this judge forces Apple to do this it sets a precedent that will affect all tech companies and most of all us the consumers. Apples brand will be tarnished all over the world. What citizen of another country knowingly wants another country to be able to hack their phone? What foreign governments will call bans or access to Apple products for the express purpose of using it against their people and us? This will be a bad thing. The case should be strong enough to stand on its own without making all of us suffer in the end.
  • Reply 12 of 63
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cali View Post



    If detectives can't crack a case without cracking a phone, they're not doing their job. iPhone wasn't even invented 10 years ago how were all these cases handled before??



    The police beat the living crap out of someone until they gave them the information they wanted. Does that answer your question?

  • Reply 13 of 63
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,695member
    imagladry wrote: »
    Analog cellular phones conversations were unencrypted. With the more to digital, conversations became encrypted. It has been that way for years. Were is the outrage the digital cell phone conversation are now encrypted?

    Todays cell phone conversations are not encrypted. I repeat cell phone conversations are not encrypted, they can be easily monitored. Unless you have a phone that specifically is designed to encrypt your conversation, the conversation is open to easy intercept.

    Now that being said the digital technology means it isn't as easy as tuning an off the shelf communications receiver to the right channel but it can be done with the right hardware. More importantly these taps can be done without anybody knowing what is up.
  • Reply 14 of 63
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,428member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by imagladry View Post



    Analog cellular phones conversations were unencrypted. With the more to digital, conversations became encrypted. It has been that way for years. Were is the outrage the digital cell phone conversation are now encrypted?



    I think there's minimal outrage on the voice side I think because more people are data-users as opposed to voice users... text messaging is the norm for many now.  Voice is secondary.

  • Reply 15 of 63
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,695member
    tommikele wrote: »

    The police beat the living crap out of someone until they gave them the information they wanted. Does that answer your question?

    People object to brutality, torture and the like but it gets the job done.
  • Reply 16 of 63
    wizard69 wrote: »
    People object to brutality, torture and the like but it gets the job done.

    What job?
  • Reply 17 of 63
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TomMikele View Post

     



    The police beat the living crap out of someone until they gave them the information they wanted. Does that answer your question?




    The implication that law enforcement can't function, never has functioned, and shouldn't be expected to function without violating constitutional rights and individual liberty is one I reject. I think even expressing jokingly that abuse is to be expected is destructive to people's determination to protect their rights. Outrage fatigue has to be countered. Official abuse is an outrage the first time it happens, and it's an outrage the millionth time it happens.

  • Reply 18 of 63
    imagladry wrote: »
    Analog cellular phones conversations were unencrypted. With the more to digital, conversations became encrypted. It has been that way for years. Were is the outrage the digital cell phone conversation are now encrypted?

    When the carriers and ISPs start using encryption methods that will not allow any backdoors for gov't agencies to spy on citizens then you'll start hearing about the gov't outrage over such changes.
  • Reply 19 of 63
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member

    Can't judges issue warrants to open a safe deposit box?

  • Reply 20 of 63
    bobschlob wrote: »
    Can't judges issue warrants to open a safe deposit box?

    A bank is a Federally regulated entity. Entirely different.
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