In a separate battle with the FBI over encryption, this one in New York, Apple scored a major win today as US Magistrate Judge James Orenstein denied a government motion that would require Apple to unlock an iPhone that belonged to the suspect in a Brooklyn drug case.
This case, which involved an alleged meth dealer in Brooklyn, saw Apple take a stand that would foreshadow the events leading up to the start of tomorrow’s congressional hearing.
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Though Jun Feng plead guilty to possession and distribution of methamphetamine in October, both Apple and the Justice Department lawyers moved forward and sought a ruling in the case as it pertained to the iPhone and the government motion.
Judge Orenstein’s dismissal today gives Apple the ruling it has long sought, and one that could prove valuable as its case against the FBI picks up steam.
Ultimately, the question to be answered in this matter, and in others like it across the country, is not whether the government should be able to force Apple to help it unlock a specific device; it is instead whether the All Writs Act resolves that issue and many others like it yet to come. For the reasons set forth above, I conclude that it does not. The government’s motion is denied.