U.S. DOJ turns to 225-year-old law to force Apple, Google to unlock password-protected devices

“The Justice Department is turning to a 225-year-old law to tackle a very modern problem: password-protected cellphones,” Danny Yadron reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Prosecutors last month persuaded a federal magistrate in Manhattan to order an unnamed phone maker to provide ‘reasonable technical assistance’ to unlock a password-protected phone that could contain evidence in a credit-card-fraud case, according to court filings. The court had approved a search warrant for the phone three weeks earlier. The phone maker, its operating system and why the government has not been able to unlock it remain under seal. The little-noticed case could offer hints for the government’s strategy to counter new encryption features from Apple Inc. and Google Inc., say privacy advocates and people familiar with such cases say.”

“‘It’s part of what I think is going to be the next biggest fight that we see on surveillance as everyone starts to implement encryption,’ said Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society,” Yadron reports. “Pointing to the phrase ‘technical assistance’ in the order, she asked, ‘Does this mean you have to do something to your product to make it surveillance friendly?'”

“If an iPhone user sets a password for the device, the data is encrypted when the phone is locked. The only way to decrypt it – even if police ship it to Apple – is to know the password, which Apple says it doesn’t record,” Yadron reports. “Albert Gidari, a partner at Perkins Coie LLP who has worked with technology firms on surveillance matters, questioned the government’s approach. ‘There’s danger in this. How far do you have to go’ to assist the government, he asked.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If Apple can’t unlock a device due to the way its designed, then they can’t unlock it. Case closed. But can the U.S. government force Apple to design devices that can be unlocked?

United States Constitution, Amendment IV:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. – Ronald Reagan, March 30, 1961

Visit the Apple-backed reformgovernmentsurveillance.com today.

Related article:
DOJ warns Apple: iPhone encryption will lead to a child dying – November 19, 2014


  1. The problem with US government, both parties, is that politics, parties and politicians have become totally captured by lobbyists and big money. There are no less than 5 lobbyists employed for each member of congress just by the banks alone. When campaign spends are rapidly heading toward the billion dollar mark it is no wonder that the “honest politician” is basically extinct. Unfortunately your otherwise brilliant constitution does not address this. I fear that unless this fundamental conflict of motivation is addressed somehow, the idea and philosophy that the U.S. was based on will be incrementally extinguished, and replaced by a financial plutocracy. The evidence is already there and we in the rest of the free world are watching with some trepidation as to what that will mean for the future of the planet. It is interesting to note that it is the new tech sector lead by Apple, and to a lesser degree Google, that are offering practical resistance to elements of this erosion of principles, lead, to some degree, by the children of the 1960s… “Hippies”… The Dr.

  2. If #MyStupidGovernment hadn’t proved again again again and again that they are NOT to be trusted to follow the US Constitution, then maybe I’d say this was OK. But seeing as #MyStupidGovernment is full of deceitful, traitorous LIARS: To hell with this new anti-citizen strategy!

    The next strategy: Client encrypted data, zero dependence on you devices encrypting your data for you. This strategy depends upon being able to get a solid encryption system onto your devices that you can then use to encrypt. Apple, Google, blahblahblah would have zero input and nothing to do with it.

    So: Is AES encryption REALLY uncrackable? No backdoors? No secret string that breaks down the encryption quality, etc? Or do we need to MAKE OUR OWN encryption system, as citizens, to keep #MyStupidGovernment OUT of our personal data without a warrant and personal permission?

    This is so sick and twisted at this point as to be insane. Gee thanks NSA and fellow traitorous lunatics for illegal citizen surveillance! You created this entire problem and brought the response upon yourselves. Idiots. 😛

    1. Fittingly:
      England is in the midst of planning their celebration in 2015 of the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. It’s the document that is the foundation of citizen/human rights laws around the planet.

      …to no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

      Magna Carta story illuminated by discovery of medieval poem
      The Melrose Chronicle, written in Latin almost 800 years ago, is an account of events at Runnymede

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