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Apple's fight with the FBI could go all the way to the US Supreme Court

Grant Gross | Feb. 18, 2016
Tim Cook says Apple is being asked to hack its own users

Apple will appeal immediately to a district judge if it loses a second time before Pym, Kevin Bankston, director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, said by email. "Their need to comply [with the order] would almost certainly be stayed pending that appeal, and likely stayed pending a circuit appeal if that happened."

Although legal experts say it's unlikely, Pym could hold Apple in contempt of court if the company refuses to cooperate with her order. She could potentially impose "significant" fines, said Braden Perry, a regulatory and government investigations lawyer with the Kennyhertz Perry law firm in Kansas City. Fines could accrue while the company refuses to comply.

Contempt of court penalties also can include prison time, but most legal experts dismissed that possibility.

The judge's order has ratcheted up a long-simmering debate about encryption and law enforcement access to personal information on smartphones.

On the other side of the debate to Senator Cotton, digital rights group Fight for the Future is planning nationwide protests at Apple stores in opposition of the court order. The FBI's request is a "dangerous demand" that will endanger the privacy of all smartphone users, said Evan Greer, Fight for the Future’s campaign director.

 

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