Apple formally appeals judge's iPhone unlocking order

The company asks a higher court to rule against the FBI request, just in case its motion to vacate wasn't the right move

Just in case its motion to vacate wasn't enough, Apple late Tuesday filed an appeal of a California judge's order requiring it to help the FBI defeat the password protection on the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino mass shooters.

Apple's lawyers filed the appeal "in an abundance of caution," to cover the possibility that an appeal is the most appropriate way to oppose Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym's Feb. 16 order, they said in a court filing.

An appeal and a motion to vacate have similar goals, but attack a judge's order in different ways. A motion to vacate asks a judge to withdraw her previous order; in this case, Apple asked Pym to reverse her Feb. 16 decision.

An appeal is a request to a higher court to reverse the decision of a lower court. In this case, the appeal goes to a district court judge in the Central District of California. Apple has suggested it may appeal the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if it loses in lower courts.

Apple's lawyers on Tuesday also entered into evidence in Pym's court a New York court ruling from Monday against the FBI in a similar iPhone unlocking case.

Pym's order has ratcheted up a year-and-a-half-long legal debate over the growing use of end-to-end encryption and other strong security features in smartphones and other devices.

Encryption is increasingly hampering law enforcement efforts to investigate crimes and terrorism, FBI Director James Comey and other officials have argued. In the near future, criminals will be able to wall off entire sections of their lives that police don't have access to, even with a court-ordered warrant, Comey said Tuesday at a congressional hearing.

Apple has opposed Pym's order, saying an order to break security features on one iPhone will endanger other devices if the code leaks out. The FBI's request in the California case will lead to many similar requests in other U.S. courts and in other countries, Apple has argued.

At the request of the FBI, Pym ordered Apple to write new source code to defeat a password protection feature on an iPhone used by San Bernardino mass shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. The FBI wants Apple to disable the phone's security feature that erases its contents after 10 wrong password attempts and also to defeat the phone's time delay between password-entering attempts.

Without those security protections in place, the FBI could enter an unlimited number of passwords in a brute force attack and gain entry into the phone in a matter of hours.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags applefbi

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?