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DOJ and FBI Respond to Apple’s Letter Regarding Breaking Encryption of San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone: eDiscovery Trends

It probably comes as no surprise that the government didn’t take Apple’s opposition to the Federal order to give investigators access to encrypted data on the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters lying down.

According to the ABA Journal, on Friday, federal prosecutors filed a motion to compel Apple to unlock the killer’s iPhone.  In its motion, the Department of Justice said that Apple is “not above the law”.  “Apple’s current refusal to comply with the court order’s order, despite the technical feasibility of doing so, instead appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy,” the DOJ wrote in its filing, stating that Apple shouldn’t be allowed to “design and market its products to allow technology, rather than the law, to control access to data”.

Then, on Sunday, the FBI also responded to Apple’s opposition.  According to NBC News, FBI Director James Comey said forcing Apple to help unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters is no big deal.  “We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land,” Comey said in a statement Sunday night, insisting that vital decisions involving safety from terrorists shouldn’t be left in the hands of “corporations that sell stuff for a living.”

In the meantime, everyone from Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai to Donald Trump is weighing in on whether Apple should help unlock the iPhone for the investigation.  And, Apple is claiming that had the passcode to Syed Farook’s iPhone not been reset hours after the shooting (at the consent of the FBI), the company would have been able to initiate a backup of the phone’s data to its associated iCloud account in order to retrieve its contents.  And, PCWorld is reporting that if San Bernardino County had been using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) service on its employees’ devices, they “would have been able to clear the device’s passcode in a matter of seconds” and the whole issue would have been moot.

So, what do you think?  Do any of the recent developments and statements change your opinion about whether Apple should or should not help the FBI break into the iPhone?  Please share any comments you might have with us or let us know if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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