Government Arrogance Should Disqualify It

…in its case trying to force Apple to disable encryption on its iPhones.

Rather than assist the effort to fully investigate a deadly terrorist attack by obeying this Court’s Order of February 16, 2016, Apple has responded by publicly repudiating that Order…Apple has attempted to design and market its products to allow technology, rather than the law, to control access to data which has been found by this Court to be warranted for an important investigation.

Never mind that under free American jurisprudence, Apple is allowed to appeal the lower court’s order to a higher court and to seek relief from complying—irreversibly, mind you—with the lower court’s order until Apple’s appeals are adjudicated. No: Apple disobeyed the high and mighty and must be punished for its impertinence.

Never mind that Apple is rightfully concerned with the sanctity of its customers’ privacy and with the ability of Americans generally to be free of the prying eyes of government. Apple disagrees with the awesome personages of FBI agents, and so it cannot possibly be behaving honestly.

DoJ’s lawyers are projecting their own failings.

Where Apple designed its software and that design interferes with the execution of search warrants, where it manufactured and sold a phone used by an ISIL-inspired terrorist, where it owns and licensed the software used to further the criminal enterprise, where it retains exclusive control over the source code necessary to modify and install the software, and where that very software now must be used to enable the search ordered by the warrant, compulsion of Apple is permissible under New York Telephone Co.

This is plainly, dishonestly specious. Apple designed its software and…manufactured and sold a phone used by…millions of American citizens, where it owns and licensed the software used to further the private affairs of American citizens…. It is plain from the careful construction of the government’s argument that it intends to expand it to pry into all of our private affairs whenever it takes a notion to.

…the Order will facilitate only the FBI’s efforts to search the phone; it does not require Apple to conduct the search or access any content on the phone. Nor is compliance with the Order a threat to other users of Apple products. Apple may maintain custody of the software, destroy it after its purpose under the Order has been served, refuse to disseminate it outside of Apple, and make clear to the world that it does not apply to other devices or users without lawful court orders….

This is deliberately disingenuous. No one is arguing that Apple is being required to conduct the government’s search. Of course, compliance with the order is a threat to other users of Apple products: the encryption, once broken or a way once found to bypass entry controls, is permanently and everywhere defeated. The FBI’s IT personnel know this. So do the government’s NSA personnel. Neither can Apple make clear to the world that it does not apply to other devices or users without those personnel making such statements being guilty of lying. Breaking an encryption algorithm or producing a way past its entry controls permanently and everywhere destroys the security of that algorithm. Without lawful court orders is just as disingenuous, as the second quote above demonstrates.

Apple is not above the law in that regard….

[M]arketing or general policy concerns are not legally cognizable objections to the Order…. This Court should not entertain an argument that fulfilling basic civic responsibilities of any American citizen or company—complying with a lawful court order—could be obviated because that company prefers to market itself as providing privacy protections….

Neither is the government above the law, and these government lawyers know full well that Apple is engaging in purely legal, solely legal, behavior in appealing the court’s order. That this is inconvenient to the government’s lawyers is their problem. Furthermore, here is the government’s lawyers repeating their reprehensible, not to say unethical, claims that because Apple is so impertinent as to dispute with them, Apple cannot possibly be acting entirely honorably and entirely out of valid concerns for Americans’ privacy—especially when that privacy is at risk of so blatantly arrogant and overreaching a government as this one is presenting itself to be.

The government’s case should be dismissed in its entirety and with prejudice over this arrogance.

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