Can't force Apple to unlock iPhone: Judge

New York: A federal judge has ruled that the US Justice Department cannot use a 227-year-old law to force Apple to provide the FBI with access to locked iPhone data, dealing a blow to the government in its battle with the company over privacy and public safety.

The ruling, by US Magistrate Judge James Orenstein, on Monday applied narrowly to one Brooklyn drug case, but it gives support to the company’s position in its fight against a California judge’s order that it create specialised software to help the FBI hack into an iPhone linked to the San Bernardino terrorism investigation.

Both cases hinge partly on whether the 1789 All Writs Act, could be used to compel Apple to cooperate with efforts to retrieve data from encrypted phones.

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