DOJ threatened to seize iOS source code unless Apple complies with court order in FBI case
The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has slid a disturbing footnote in its court filing against Apple that could be interpreted as a threat to seize the iOS source code unless Apple complies with a court order in the FBI case.
The DoJ is demanding that Apple create a special version of iOS with removed security features that would permit the FBI to run brute-force passcode attempts on the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has made public where he stands on the Apple vs. FBI case, which has quickly become a heated national debate.
In the court papers, DoJ calls Apple’s rhetoric in the San Bernardino standoff as “false” and “corrosive” because the Cupertino firm dared suggest that the FBI’s court order could lead to a “police state.”
Footnote Nine of DoJ’s filing reads:
For the reasons discussed above, the FBI cannot itself modify the software on the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone without access to the source code and Apple’s private electronic signature.
The government did not seek to compel Apple to turn those over because it believed such a request would be less palatable to Apple. If Apple would prefer that course, however, that may provide an alternative that requires less labor by Apple programmers.
As Fortune’s Philip-Elmer DeWitt rightfully pointed out, that’s a classic police threat.