The government argues the iPhone 5s in question runs an older operating system that has been cracked before.
The U.S. Justice Department has asked a New York federal court to overturn a recent ruling that protects Apple from having to unlock an iPhone involved in a drug case.
Last week, a Brooklyn judge rejected the government’s request to compel Cupertino to crack an iPhone 5s seized in 2014 from accused drug trafficker Jun Feng, who eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
Despite the guilty plea, however, the government claimed access to his phone was still necessary, because it might lead to criminal accomplices.
“Ultimately, the question to be answered in this matter, and in others like it across the country, is not whether the government should be able to force Apple to help it unlock a specific device,” Magistrate Judge James Orenstein said at the time. “It is instead whether the All Writs Act resolves that issue and many others like it yet to come.
I conclude that it does not.”
The move was welcomed by the tech titan, which is also fighting a very public battle against the FBI over its request to access an iPhone 5c used by a terrorist in the San Bernardino attack.
In the New York case, prosecutors filed a 45-page brief on Monday, arguing that Feng’s iPhone 5s runs an older operating system—iOS 7—that Apple has agreed to breach in the past.
“This case in no way upends the balance between privacy and security,” prosecutors wrote in the new filing, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Judge Orenstein’s ruling “goes far afield of the circumstances of this case and sets forth an unprecedented limitation on federal courts’ authority,” the brief said.
Apple disagrees. “Judge Orenstein ruled the FBI’s request would ‘thoroughly undermine fundamental principles of the Constitution’ and we agree,” a company spokesman said in a statement. “We share the judge’s concern that misuse of the All Writs Act would start us down a slippery slope that threatens everyone’s safety and privacy.”
Cupertino boss Tim Cook has referenced that same slippery slope in the tech titan’s fight with the FBI, claiming that the requested iOS backdoor will inevitably end up in the wrong hands.
Apple is even willing to take its fight to the Supreme Court, where it would have the support of numerous industry heavyweights.
Apple is due back in court on the San Bernardino case on March 22.
The DOJ did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment.