New York judge rules Apple can't be forced to hack phone for drug case

US magistrate judge in New York rules Apple cannot be forced to unlock iPhone for drug case, boding well for bigger San Bernardino terrorism case.

Published Tue, Mar 1 2016 7:04 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 12:01 PM CST

A landmark decision has been reached in the ongoing data encryption war. A US magistrate judge in New York, presiding over a drug trafficking case, has ruled Apple cannot be forced to unlock an iPhone by the US government, which has been using the more than 100 year-old All Writs Act (AWA) as part of its argument. While this doesn't directly involve the bigger San Bernardino terrorism case, it's a big win for Apple and smartphone users in general who support their right to encryption, and will certainly help its argument in that case.

New York judge rules Apple can't be forced to hack phone for drug case |

"The established rules for interpreting a statute's text constrain me to reject the government's interpretation that the AWA empowers a court to grant any relief not outright prohibited by law," magistrate Judge James Orenstein stated in his order.

In other words, the government overstepped its bounds in its interpretation of the AWA. Orenstein went on to conclude this is a congressional issue.

Apple and the Department of Justice will battle it out in court March 22.


Sean has a background in journalism, and has been using that to write about gaming and tech since 2008 - first for Neoseeker, then Rage3D, and now, TweakTown. As News Editor, Sean's job is to supply regular stories on the latest happenings in the tech world. He also writes tweak guides to help you get the most out of your PC games and hardware.

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