The other phones are evidence in cases where prosecutors have sought, as in the San Bernardino, Calif., terror case, to use an 18th-century law called the All Writs Act to compel the company to help them bypass the passcode security feature of phones that may hold evidence, according to a letter from Apple which was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday.
The letter from an Apple lawyer to a federal judge lists the locations of the other phones: Four in Illinois, three in New York, two in California, two in Ohio, and one in Massachusetts.
Despite FBI Director James Comey's claim that "the San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message, it's quite clear that the agency chose this specific situation to battle over because it would garner the highest possible public support and set a precedence for future cases. It's considered by many to have been a smart first move.
“They’ll come up with a reason why for every single phone,” said Chris Finan, a former White House security adviser who, while in government, said he opposed this tactic. But as a strategic matter, he said, “It’s tactically brilliant.”
New York City's police commissioner, William J. Bratton, and the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., both voiced their criticism of Apple saying that they currently possess 175 iPhones that they can not unlock. When asked if he would want access to the those phones should the FBI prevail in the San Bernardino case, Vance said: “Absolutely right.”
Apple has hired Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. and Theodore B. Olson, partners at Gibson Dunn, as outside counsel to help it defend the security of its devices and its users data.
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