How Apple could be punished for defying the U.S. government demand to hack iPhone

“The fines and punishments that Apple could face by continuing to defy the FBI’s demand that it help unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook are considerable, even by the standards of one of the richest companies in the world,” Mark Sullivan reports for Fast Company.

“Many of the possible penalties are discretionary to the court where the dispute is currently being heard. The case, at least for now, resides in the U.S. District Court for California’s Central District. If Apple openly defies or ignores the demands in the order signed by Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym, the court would most likely wield a civil contempt-of-court charge as the mechanism to coerce Apple to comply, explains Cooper Levenson attorney Peter Fu in an email to Fast Company,” Sullivan reports. “The court could also mete out civil punishments like fines. If such penalties aren’t regulated by a statute, they have to be based on precedent, Fu says.”

“One possible guideline may come from a case in which the government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it refused to hand over user data to the National Security Agency, says Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Andrew Crocker. And the size of the daily fine was set to double every week that Yahoo refused to comply,” Sullivan reports. “Those are all possible civil penalties, but the court could also assign penalties associated with criminal cases. If the case goes all the way to the Supreme Court, and Apple refuses to comply with a demand to adhere to the Pym order, then things get a little crazy. ‘Under these circumstances, there is a universe of possibilities where Tim Cook could actually go to jail for refusing to comply with a lawful order of the court,’ Fu says.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, as we wrote last October:

Too many people do not realize how lucky we are that Tim Cook is CEO of Apple Inc. No matter what else Cook does, as long as he holds his ground on this issue, he’s one of the greatest CEOs in history. We need and are lucky to have a man with a strong backbone to stand up to this constant pressure from misguided government spies who’re hell bent on running roughshod over the U.S. Constitution and U.S. citizens’ rights.

Furthermore, the friends and family members of the San Bernadino terrorism victims should be incensed that the U.S. federal government is using those tragic deaths in a despicable ploy to sway a confused portion of the public to support the trampling of their rights.

Those who wrongheadedly agree with these supercilious disingenuous government hacks need to realize that they are working to deliver exactly what the terrorists wanted to achieve with their murderous rampage: Eroding freedom.

Don’t be blind. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be weak.

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! – Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

Visit the Apple-backed today.

Smattering of protesters gather to support Apple in iPhone fight against U.S. government – February 24, 2016
Apple is losing the PR war with the U.S. government – February 24, 2016
Pew survey: More than half of Americans think Apple should comply with FBI – February 22, 2016
U.S. Representative Darrell Issa on Apple vs. FBI: Very scary when your government wants to know more about you – February 24, 2016
Apple: The U.S. Congress, not the courts, must decide iPhone access fight – February 24, 2016
Apple’s fight with U.S. could speed development of devices impervious to government intrusion – February 24, 2016
Apple to argue that FBI court order violates its free-speech rights – February 24, 2016
Apple, the U.S. government, and security – February 24, 2016
Congressman Ted Lieu asks FBI to drop demand that Apple hack iPhones – February 23, 2016
In the fight to hack iPhones, the U.S. government has more to lose than Apple – February 23, 2016
Here are the 12 other cases where the U.S. government has demanded Apple help it hack into iPhones – February 23, 2016
John McAfee blasts FBI for ‘illiterate’ order to create Apple iPhone backdoor – February 23, 2016
Some family members of San Bernardino victims back U.S. government – February 23, 2016
Apple supporters to rally worldwide today against U.S. government demand to unlock iPhone – February 23, 2016
U.S. government seeks to force Apple to extract data from a dozen more iPhones – February 23, 2016
Apple CEO Cook: They’d have to cart us out in a box before we’d create a backdoor – February 22, 2016
Tim Cook’s memo to Apple employees: ‘This case is about more than a single phone’ – February 22, 2016
Obama administration: We’re only demanding Apple hack just one iPhone – February 17, 2016


    1. This is what I was saying the other day: what this article is saying. The Directors and Officers of a company could be held liable for a company not following a court order. Liability attaches to these individuals.

      I find this fascinating. All of you fanboys and Tim Cook, the self-proclaimed expert in National Security and Law Enforcement, wants to convice you that he’s right and the government is wrong.

      Stop worshipping corporations.
      Stop blindly following companies.
      They don’t care about you, only about money.

      Your ability to research and questions things is the power you have. Do not just blindly believe Apple. Apple is not competent in National Security and Law Enforcement. Have some faith in these things that there are lots of good people running these things that have the training and experience to know what and why they’re doing it.

      A tech company is not something you would or should ever put your faith and trust in when it comes to these matters.

        1. MDN/fanboy/uneducated pattern:

          1. Irrational: Post uninformed, emotional comments about a corporation.
          2. Cult: Furiously reject anything that could be “bad” about the corporation in question. Accept everything they tell you as the absolute truth. Trust no one else. Hold the corporation out to be an expert at everything, including law enforcement and national security.
          3. Name calling: call people names because you have nothing of any material substance to add.

          Your post says nothing. Advanced nothing. It speaks to your character. You’re a fanboy who blindly follows a corporation.

          1. dswe’s troll pattern:
            – Ignore the clearly-explained reasons why people are supporting Apple’s action in this situation and just resort to an ad hominem attack by saying people support Apple for no reason other than unquestioning loyalty.
            – Also ignore all the times MDN and others here have railed against what they consider bad decisions by Apple.

            tl;dr – waste everyone’s time.

  1. or, Apple could dissolve it’s US corporate structure and restructure itself overseas, outside the reach of the USDOJ… I’m sure there are many countries that would love to have Apple’s tax revenue in their coffers.

  2. As the article points (albeit much further down from the opening paragraphs), there is a process for reconsideration and appeal of this preliminary order of the magistrate judge. So, talk of penalties at this stage is exceedingly premature. But, of course, it makes for great click-bait.

  3. I posted this on another article, and I’ll post it on this one too.
    Why is it not publicized that the San Bernardino killers destroyed their personal phones, but kept their company phones intact. Perhaps the company phones were used for company purposes??

    Please take the time to listen.

    1. Because the real reason behind this case is that the FBI wants to be able to break Apple encryption and they think this is the best case they have, the one towards which most of the public and judges will be symptathetic.

      1. I get the feeling Apple is going to lose another battle, as usual. Apple management is built like a house of cards. A gentle breeze will knock down Apple in a heap. No one has anything to fear from Apple. No one is going after Android or Windows smartphones. Go after the punk company. Apple has become pathetic. It’s a pity all those supposedly loyal Apple customers have nothing positive to say in defense of Apple’s stance.

  4. If Apple holds their ground, and I think we are hope and pray that they do, and harsh penalties like huge fines and jail time are handed out, then I see only three solutions for Apple.

    1. The John Galt strategy
    Close up shop and give the money back to the shareholders. No more Apple, no more jobs created by Apple, no more Apple revenues.

    2. Adios USA
    Move the company to a country that has a more positive view of citizen rights. Canada’s close, speaks the same language (for the most part), and is pretty progressive. All those jobs in Silicon Valley would then disappear. That should help the housing crisis in the bay area.

    3. Crony-capitalism Approach
    Start filling the campaign fund coffers of Congressman with gobs of money so they write laws that protect Apple and privacy rights. This approach seems to be the only one that impact our laws.

    1. I think the 3rd solution is the best. Just pay out money to those who write the laws. It’s worked quite well for Google/Alphabet, so Apple could afford to give even more. Bribery works a lot better than trying to be honest.

      Knowing how weak and hated Apple is as a company it is probably the only possible solution. You’d really think Apple is the real evil in this country considering all the ire that’s being raised against Apple as a protector of terrorists and criminal activity.

      I don’t know why Apple hasn’t bought any news media companies to help fight all the anti-Apple articles circulating everywhere. With all that money, Apple stupidly can’t figure out how things work in the U.S. Microsoft has MSNBC in its pocket and Jeff Bezos has the Washington Post in his pocket. Apple and Tim Cook have zero media help to cover their asses against negative public sentiment.

    2. Nice post 84 Mac Guy, but there are other options I think.

      – The John Galt move: Move to the city that John Galt founded. The real John Galt, not the fictional character.

      – Make two types of phones, one with more backdoors than swiss cheese and the other the normal iphone, for people of the free and civilized world.

      – Change the system, goodness knows it needs to be changed. Such wonderful ideals twisted and turned into rubbish.

      – Give up. I sure hope it doesn’t come to that.

      Tim Cook is showing the proper leadership, way to go Tim.

      1. One thing certain conservative Apple critics haven’t seemed to realise is that if citizens’ privacy isn’t protected, an oppressive government will know exactly who has firearms and where they keep them, and where and when well-armed patriots intend to assemble for a stand against an oppressive government — a fine kettle of fish. So much for sacrosanct second amendment rights.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.