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Apple accuses US of seeking 'dangerous' powers

Tech giant Apple is resisting US government efforts to make the company unlock an iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino shooters. In a court filing, it calls the order unconstitutional and dangerous.

Apple has asked a US federal court to dismiss a court order for it to hack into a locked iPhone.

USA Kalifornien Apple Zentrale

Apple's California HQ is a few hundred kilometers from where the San Bernadino shootings took place.

The FBI wants Apple's help to unlock the iPhone used by one of the assailants in December's San Bernardino attacks. Agents haven't been able to open the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook because they don't know the passcode.

Apple has argued that the government's request is "unprecedented" and violates the company's constitutional rights of free speech, by forcing it to write software which undermines its values.

"No court has ever authorized what the government now seeks, no law supports such unlimited and sweeping use of the judicial process, and the constitution forbids it," Apple's lawyers wrote in the motion.

"The government demands that Apple create a back door to defeat the encryption on the iPhone, making its users' most confidential and personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, hostile foreign agents, and unwarranted government surveillance," according to the filing for Apple.

Apple executives, who briefed reporters, said the order would effectively require the creation of "a new operating system" or "government OS" which could be used repeatedly by FBI forensics experts and potentially leak out to others.

FBI defense

"The San Bernardino litigation isn't about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message. It is about the victims and justice," FBI Director James Comey said in a letter last week.

But speaking on

ABC news on

Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the FBI order "could expose people to incredible vulnerabilities."

Watch video 01:15

Apple CEO: Unlocking phones would be bad for users

"This case is not a case about one isolated iPhone," Apple said in the filing, reiterating previous comments.

"Rather, this case is about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld."

Two US House of Representatives panels have called for hearings on the subject, in light of the dispute between the government and Apple. Comey told a congressional panel that court approval of the FBI's request was "unlikely to be a trailblazer" in setting a legal precedent.

jm/jr (Reuters, AFP)

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