Apple Versus Feds in Brooklyn Court

The legal battle between national security interests and personal privacy escalated last Monday after the Justice Department appealed a Brooklyn federal court ruling that prosecutors do not have the legal authority to force Apple to retrieve information from a suspected Queens drug dealer’s iPhone.

Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled Feb. 29 that the 1789 All Writs Act is not enough to justify the FBI’s demand that Apple extract information from a smartphone owned by the accused Jun Feng.

In response, prosecutors filed legal arguments Monday that called the ruling “an unprecedented limitation” on the government’s authority. The brief alleged that Apple is not being asked to do anything it is has not previously done or anything it is not capable of doing. Apple has assisted the FBI in extracting information from its devices in 70 previous incidents, according to prosecutors.