Apple Plans to Argue the First Amendment Protects Company from Helping FBI

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling

Apple plans to argue that it should not be required to help the FBI unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers because a judge relied on an obscure law and infringed on the company’s First-Amendment rights, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

At issue is the All Writs Act, which was first passed by Congress in 1789 and is the basis for trying to force Apple to help the FBI.

“The government here is trying to use this statute from 1789 in a way that it has never been used before. They are seeking a court order to compel Apple to write new software, to compel speech,” Apple attorney Theodore J. Boutrous said in a brief interview with The Times.

Boutrous said there’s legal precedent that computer code is a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

The debate, he said, should be argued by Congress, not the courts.

“It is not appropriate for the government to obtain through the courts what they couldn’t get through the legislative process,” he said.

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.

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