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Does Apple’s New York Win Over the FBI Help in California?

Apple’s win in the iPhone warrant case found the government’s interpretation of the law unconstitutional in its broadness.  But it may not help Apple in its San Bernardino trial.

The ruling from Magistrate Judge Orenstein can be found here.

The extraordinary relief [the government] seeks cannot be considered “agreeable to the usages and principles of law.” In arguing to the contrary, the government posits a reading of the latter phrase so expansive – and in particular, in such tension with the doctrine of separation of powers – as to cast doubt on the AWA’s constitutionality if adopted.

The case does however provide some major argument for Apple to use in its San Bernardino case, particularly if the company loses in California and needs to appeal.

The new ruling centers on exactly the same question as the California case — can the All Writs Act compel Apple’s help in accessing a locked phone.

Orenstein’s ruling echoes many of the arguments put forward by Apple in the San Bernardino case, particularly the argument that Congress had already explicitly denied the government these powers when it passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act in 1994, as The Verge reported.

The ruling also illustrates the dangers of trying similar cases in different courts simultaneously. Prior to the San Bernardino order, the New York case had been the central legal venue for the FBI’s anti-encryption initiatives, and the case has continued more or less unaffected by the higher profile California trial.

Orenstein made headlines last week when he asked Apple to detail other federal cases in which law enforcement had sought to legally compel Apple’s assistance in unlocking a phone. Apple replied with a brief detailing more than a dozen such cases, indicating the broad scope of the FBI’s efforts.

Source: The Verge

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