In an effort to start a debate on data encryption, a New York federal judge has asked Apple to explain why complying with a court order to unlock a customer’s smartphone would be “unduly burdensome”, reports the Washington Post.
You may recall that a national debate over data encryption began last year when Apple announced that it had started offering encryption on its latest devices that could be decrypted only by the smartphone’s owner. That triggered FBI Director James B. Comey to claim that Apple and all firms joining the initiative were deliberately allowing “people to place themselves beyond the law.”
Although Comey has since had countless talks with tech firms, which he says were productive, the FBI’s position on the matter has remained unchanged. Now that there is a case in court that involves an iPhone, magistrate Judge James Orenstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has chosen not to issue a ruling until Apple responds and details whether the government’s request would be “unduly burdensome.” Some say he has chosen the wrong case, because the iPhone in question is running an older version of iOS, which Apple can unlock.
The government’s position – of course – is that unlocking the iPhone “is not likely to place any unreasonable burden on Apple.” On the other hand, the judge said that he was “less certain” and invited Apple to submit its views by Thursday.