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NY judge scolds United States in its fight with Apple over iPhone data

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A NY jurist is scolding the government for efforts to shame Apple for refusing to surrender information from customers' iPhones.

The ruling could signal Apple is on sound footing in a separate but similar battle with the USA government over being forced to help crack into an iPhone used by one of the shooters in December's San Bernardino attacks. The government said they had been at least partly inspired by the Islamic State and said it was critical that its investigators conduct a thorough investigation by accessing the phone. In California, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered investigators to create specialized software to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation bypass security protocols on the encrypted phone so investigators can test random passcode combinations in rapid sequence to access its data.

A report on Reuters said that, while the court decision relates to a different case, it still concerns the All Writs Act (AWA) which the government is trying to use to compel Apple to crack an iPhone by building a version of iOS with a built-in backdoor. It asserts that such an order will assist in the execution of a search warrant previously issued by this court, and that the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. ยง 1651(a) (the "AWA"), empowers the court to grant such relief.

The case covered a lot of the issues in the headline-grabbing San Bernardino incident, and the judge reportedly warmed to the sentiments that Apple has put out since this began.

He rejected government claims that Apple was concerned only with public relations.

Orenstein's ruling was a precedent, but the judge presiding over matters in the San Bernardino case is not bound by his decision. "I believe this case will have a huge impact all over the world".

"Federal Magistrate Judge James Orenstein did not sign the order the government wanted". In addition, Orenstein said to apply the 18th century law, he must consider the burden such a request would impose on Apple as well as the necessity of inflicting the burden on the iPhone maker.

The company's worry is that once one iPhone can be unlocked in this way, all others will potentially be able to be unlocked, risking leaks of personal information.

New York's chief prosecutor said the company's devices were beyond the law and urged Congress to pass new legislation keeping encryption keys to user data in the hands of the tech giants.

Although the owner has already pleaded guilty, the FBI had argued that evidence on the device "will assist us in an active criminal investigation".

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