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The 5 biggest reveals from Apple's motion to dismiss the FBI's court order

Oscar Raymundo | Feb. 29, 2016
On Thursday, Apple issued a motion to dismiss the FBI's court order. Here are five things we learned.

On Thursday, Apple filed a motion to vacate the court order compelling the iPhone-maker to create a hackable version of iOS that the FBI can use to break into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.

In the filing, Apple’s main argument is that its software is protected speech, and that the government asking the company to fabricate software that goes against its beliefs is a violation of its First and Fifth Amendment rights.

We read through the 65-page filing, and spotted the following revelations. 

1. GovtOS would take 10 Apple engineers four weeks to create

Apple outlined all the resources required to create the hackable version of iOS, which the company refers to “GovtOS.” Because such software does not currently exist, Apple will have to create it from scratch, as opposed to simply tweaking its latest version of iOS. That will require six to ten Apple engineers and employees working for at least two weeks—but more likely up to four weeks. Apple will have to write new code, design and test new functionalities, and prepare documentation and procedures.

Furthermore, Apple will either have to create a brute-force tool to enter passcodes, or help the FBI build it. Once GovtOS is created, the software will have to go through Apple’s quality assurance and security testing. And Apple will have to record exactly how all of this was developed in case it ever comes up in court. To top it off, “if the new operating system has to be destroyed and recreated each time a new order is issued, the burden will multiply.”

2. Congress has said that companies like Apple are actually excluded from the All Writs Act

The government is citing the All Writs Act of 1789 in its court order, but Apple is claiming its use here is unjustified. In another pending case regarding a drug dealer’s iPhone, the judge said that the All Writs Act cannot be used to give the government this type of authority without approval from Congress. Apple is arguing that Congress actually gave the company protection in 1994 when it enacted the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

“Congress declared via CALEA that the government cannot dictate to providers of electronic communications services or manufacturers of telecommunications equipment any specific equipment design or software configuration,” reads the filing.

3. This order is like forcing a pharmaceutical company to create a lethal drug

Apple claims that the FBI’s order creates an “oppressive burden” on the company. According to the filing, it’s comparable to the government forcing a pharmaceutical company to create a lethal drug to carry out lawfully issued death warrants or ordering a news publication to publish a fake story to lure out criminals.

 

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