The judge at the head of the iPhone unlocking controversy court hearings has upped the ante somewhat. In arguments Monday, Judge James Orenstein said that forcing Apple to extract data from a suspect's iPhone 5s would be tantamount to forcing a pharmaceutical company to provide drugs for executions against company mandate.
The defendant was charged with three counts of possession and distribution of methamphetamine. The iPhone 5s in question
running iOS 7 was seized from the suspect's home, and is currently held as evidence by the department of justice.
Apple has said that if it is ordered to do so, it will extract data, a fact that the company confirmed in its own filing last week. The federal filing made after Cupertino's states that "Apple has acknowledged that it has the technical capability to do so again in this case. It musters only two reasons not to compel its assistance now: it invokes the costs associated with devoting employee time to bypassing passcode-locked iPhones involved in criminal activity and potentially to testifying in federal court."
First reported by the BBC, the Monday arguments followed a back-and-forth between Apple and the US Department of Justice last week. Orenstein told US lawyer Saritha Komatireddy that "what you're asking [Apple] to do is do work for you" suggesting that the US case is weak, and hinges on evidence in the phone to make or break the case.
Komatireddy asked the judge to file a response in writing, versus continued oral arguments. The attorney called the judge's analogy between Apple's phone data extraction to the death penalty "somewhat inflammatory."
The attorney's assessment of the character of the judge's remarks was confirmed, with Orenstein saying that his remarks were made "purposefully so." The judge has ordered both Apple and the Department of Justice to make additional filings no later than Wednesday. He indicated that he would rule on the matter as soon as practicable.