Apple vs. the FBI: The legal arguments in a nutshell

Apple has assaulted the FBI’s iPhone unlocking request on several legal fronts

The very first page of Apple’s motion to vacate the judge’s order

Credit: James Niccolai

Several previous court cases have looked as a kind of language on applications code, even though the legal record is combined, she said. Apple asserts the court cannot drive language from the business, especially when the address would be against Apple’s own interests.

“Clarity on this particular problem would help all who compose and defend people who write code,” Dukarski said. “If the code is handled as language, I believe Apple has a powerful standing against compelled address.”


Apple asserts that the FBI has created “nothing apart from conjecture that the compelled language could create abundant info.”

It is crucial that you contemplate the bigger picture than this one case, Perry included. “The bulk of the argument is all about balancing the needs of law enforcement with all the solitude and personal safety interests of the people,” he said.

Following are a few of the primary legal problems.

What is the argument of the FBI? The FBI’s request relies greatly on the All Writs Act, a U.S. law dating, back to the late 1700s, letting courts to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their individual jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

Judges are given wide latitude to compel parties to work in cases before them by the All Writs Act, however there are limitations. The judge should have no other legal alternatives available, the objective of the writ (Apple) must be closely associated to the case, along with the court order cannot demand an undue weight.

Apple’s contribution is crucial to obtain the telephone, Department of Justice attorneys representing the FBI assert.

The larger dilemma: More generally, FBI Director James Comey and other officials have called for a policy debate about offenders’ use of encrypted communications to guard law enforcement from their tasks.

Beyond this instance, the bigger dilemma is “actually about who we desire to be as a nation, and how do we wish to rule ourselves?”

The FBI needs a public debate about the problems of security and encryption, Comey included.


“This isn’t a case about one apart iPhone,” the firm’s attorneys wrote Thursday. Instead, the FBI is seeking “a dangerous new power” to compel Apple and other technology businesses to sabotage fundamental security and seclusion protections.


Apple vs. the All Writs Act: The business asserts Pym’s order discounts several limitations on the All Writs Act. The act will not give new ability to compel help beyond that Apple says to courts.


“The All Writs Act doesn’t permit the authorities to compel a maker’s aid just since it’s set a great into the stream of business,” they wrote in their own appeal. “Apple is no more linked to this phone than General Motors is to a business automobile used by a fraudster on his day-to-day commute.”

Apple’s First Amendment argument: The business points to several court cases where judges have considered code as a kind of language. It is a breach of the First Amendment to compel language, the business’s attorneys assert.

Apple’s Fifth Amendment argument: The due process claims are a little more demanding to follow, however they go like this: The Fifth Amendment shields U.S. residents against the government taking away their freedom. The requested order would need Apple to “do the government’s command” in a way that is burdensome and breaks Apple’s “core principles,” its attorneys assert.

What happens? Judge Pym has scheduled a hearing on Apple’s allure for March 22 in Riverside, California. It is nearly sure that her greatest decision will probably be appealed by the losing side.