Apple has won a notable court case against the FBI after a judge in New York ruled that the company should not be forced to use a backdoor to unlock an iPhone in a case that has major similarities to the San Bernardino case in California.
A report on Reuters said that, while the court decision relates to a different case, it still concerns the All Writs Act (AWA) which the government is trying to use to compel Apple to crack an iPhone by building a version of iOS with a built-in backdoor.
The case in New York involves a drugs dealer and an iPhone. Reuters said that US magistrate judge James Orenstein decided he did not have the legal authority to force Apple to crack an iPhone that was picked up during a drugs bust.
Orenstein said: "The extraordinary relief [the government] seeks cannot be considered 'agreeable to the usages and principles of law'. In arguing to the contrary, the government posits a reading of the latter phrase so expansive, and in particular in such tension with the doctrine of separation of powers, as to cast doubt on the AWA's constitutionality if adopted."
The judge in the San Bernardino case is not bound by Orenstein's decision but it could well be used to shape the response to the case.
The Justice Department is said to be "disappointed" with the ruling as it had hoped to use the AWA for the case in California, but has now, in New York at least, seen this attempt fail.
V3 contacted Apple for comment on the outcome but had received no reply at the time of publication.
The decision came a day before Apple will make its case to a congressional panel arguing for the request from the government to be thrown out.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been vocal on the matter, claiming that it would undermine the security and privacy of all iOS device users.
"The US government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand," he said last month.
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