It’s a debate that pits digital privacy against national security interests.
Last year, a federal magistrate in Chicago ordered Apple to help federal prosecutors access data on an iPhone in a personal bankruptcy and passport fraud case. Apple refused to comply.
According to the Chicago Tribune, in November 2015, U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon appealed to Apple to help the FBI bypass the passcode to search, extract and copy data from an iPhone 5S owned by Pethinaidu and Parameswari Veluchamy who live in the Northern District of Illinois. The couple had run Mutual Bank which failed in July 2009 among a scurry of scandals.
The couple was more recently charged with passport fraud according to court documents.
An affidavit filed Nov. 13 said text messages, phone contacts and digital photos might help confirm wrongdoing. It could also indicate motives and whether or not the fraud was intentional as charged.
Apple denied the order on December 9 and declined to comment on the case. An Apple spokesman did say that the company has received some 10,000 requests from law enforcement within the past year and has complied with 80 percent of them.
The refusals included America’s deadliest terrorist attack since September 11.
Earlier this month (Feb. 17th), Apple had said it would fight a federal magistrate’s order to help the FBI break into an encrypted iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino, California shooters.
The shooting happened Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at a center for people with developmental disabilities. A total of 14 people were killed in the mass shooting, several more were wounded.
The tech company says helping the FBI to hack these phones would essentially put millions of iPhones at risk.