The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has launched a scathing attack on Apple, using a court filing to counter Apple’s argument that unlocking the iPhone belonging to terrorist Syed Farook would set a dangerous precedent for the future privacy of iPhone owners.
Dismissing Apple CEO Tim Cook’s belief that developing software to open up Farook’s iPhone would lead to criminals being able to hack into iPhones, the DoJ countered that the court order is "modest" and only "applies to a single iPhone". It also noted that it "allows Apple to decide the least burdensome means of complying".
The DoJ stated: “As Apple well knows, the Order does not compel it to unlock other iPhones or to give the government a universal 'master key' or 'back door.
"Apple's rhetoric is not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights."
The DoJ also claims that creating a new version of iOS to break into the iPhone in question would not be difficult.
The filing reads: "By Apple's own reckoning, the corporation - which grosses hundreds of billions of dollars a year - would need to set aside as few as six of its 100,000 employees for perhaps as little as two weeks.
"This burden, which is not unreasonable, is the direct result of Apple's deliberate marketing decision to engineer its products so that the government cannot search them, even with a warrant."
In further comments, the DoJ also said that getting other major tech players to offer it legal support was a diversionary tactic by Apple, saying the Cupertino company ‘desperately needs’ the case to be about more than one iPhone.
Apple has hit back, with main counsel Bruce Sewell stating:"In 30 years of practice I don't think I've ever seen a legal brief more intended to smear the other side with false accusation and innuendo and less intended to focus on the real merits of the case."
Sewell added that Apple used encryption to stop its customers being targeted by hackers and that the FBI should be offering its support.