Whether the firm can be forced to build a backdoor into the iPhone for the FBI.
Apple’s effort would move the contentious policy debate between digital privacy rights and national security interests to Congress, where Apple — one of the world’s most respected technology companies — wields considerably more influence. Apple spent nearly $5 million lobbying Congress last year, mostly on tax and copyright issues. Key lawmakers have been openly divided about whether the government’s demands in the case go too far.
“The government is really seeking to push the courts to do what they haven’t been able to persuade Congress to do,” Boutrous said in an AP interview. “That’s to give it more broad, sweeping authority to help the Department of Justice hack into devices, to have a backdoor into devices, and the law simply does not provide that authority.”
Michael Zweiback, the former chief of the cybercrimes section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, said it was highly unusual for the U.S. to ask Apple to give the FBI specialized software that would weaken the digital locks on the iPhone.
“There’s a significant legal question as to whether the  All Writs Act can be used to order a company to create something that may not presently exist,” Zweiback said. He said as a former prosecutor he was sympathetic to the government’s case, but he described Apple’s arguments as strong and said the issue has broad implications.
The U.S. has used the All Writs Act at least three times — most recently in 1980 — to compel a phone company to provide a list of dialed numbers, but in those cases the technology and tools already existed, said Jennifer Granick, an attorney and director of civil liberties and the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
“This is a terrorism investigation that’s solved. We know who did it,” Granick said. “What happens so often is we do something that’s justified for terrorism, but it’s going to get used in regular, run-of-the-mill cases.” More.
Reality check: Always for the greater good, of course. People who don’t trust the government should be targets of surveillance in principle, right?
See also: Apple vs the FBI: The legal issues