An order was passed by US Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym on February 16, 2016, under which Apple was ordered to help the FBI in unlocking the iPhone of a terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook, who was responsible for an attack that killed 14 people. The terrorist was killed by law enforcement in San Bernardino, California, on December 2, 2015, during a shootout.
However, Apple Inc. is completely against FBI demands since the company believes that the case will have extremely threatening consequence on the privacy of iPhone users.
Apple has also received the support from three advocacy groups. Access Now and Wickr Foundation, which support digital rights, asked for the permission to submit friend-of-the-court filings, showing the concern regarding the adverse effect on human rights due to deliberate deterioration of digital security.
In addition, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has entered the fight by stating that forcing Apple to provide assistance in this case gives rise to several constitutional questions on the limitations of law enforcement authority.
These filings are the commencement of a series of court pleadings that have been filed by many, including Google, Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp, questioning whether Apple can be compelled to unlock the terrorist’s iPhone. If the judge accepts the briefs, it will be instrumental in helping her to decide whether she should stand by her order or not. The deadline for filings has been set for March 3, 2016.
The so-called amici curiae filings are usually considered by courts during the cases that involve public interest on the whole or in cases that raise questions on the application of law on new technologies. “The disposition of this case is of critical importance to Americans’ privacy and cybersecurity because the government seeks to compel a technology company to create software designed to weaken the security of its own devices,” said the ACLU in its filing.