In a drug-trafficking case in New York State where the government sought to use the All Writs Act of 1789 to compel Apple to bypass the passcode security on an iPhone, Judge James Orenstein has denied the government’s request. Although this case differs in some ways from the San Bernardino terrorism case in which the FBI is trying to compel Apple to unlock an iPhone, both cases rely on the All Writs Act. Judge Orenstein found that the government failed to establish that the All Writs Act permits the relief it seeks. He also wrote that Apple was not sufficiently close to the criminal conduct and related investigation, that the burden imposed on Apple would be too high, and that it was unclear that the government even needed Apple’s help. In a world where legal precedent is important, Judge Orenstein’s ruling stands to support Apple’s position in other cases, at least until it’s appealed to a higher court.
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