“U.S. judge on Monday expressed strong doubts that he had the legal authority to order Apple Inc to access data on a locked iPhone that was seized as part of a federal investigation,” Brendan Pierson reports for Reuters. “‘What you’re asking them to do is do work for you,’ U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein told government attorneys at a hearing in Brooklyn federal court.”

“Saritha Komatireddy, arguing for the government, said the order it sought would essentially be the same as ordering Apple to turn over information,” Pierson reports. “But Orenstein said the request went further than that. He instead compared the order the government sought to one compelling a drug company to make a lethal injection drug over its conscientious objection, asking Komatireddy whether he would have the authority to do that. Komatireddy asked to respond in writing, adding that ‘the hypothetical is somewhat inflammatory.’ ‘Purposefully so,’ Orenstein responded.”

“Komatireddy also questioned whether unlocking the phone would really be a burden for Apple, noting the company ‘has been doing this for years without any objection.’ Orenstein later pressed Apple’s lawyer, Marc Zwillinger, to explain the company’s change of heart,” Pierson reports. “Zwillinger said the company had become more concerned about customer data in light of recent high-profile data breaches. ‘Right now Apple is aware that customer data is under siege from a variety of different directions,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last month:

Because the U.S. government spooks trampled all over the U.S. Constitution, constantly demanding that Apple grant access to customers devices, Apple decided to remove themselves for the equation. And so, the government reaps what it hath sown. We guess law enforcement will have to get off their asses and do some old-fashioned leg work if they want to crack cases.

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