I read an article noted on the ABA Journal Weekly Newsletter entitled, “Feds say 1789 law requires Apple to help government get encrypted smartphone data.” I’ve always been a proponent of individual liberty (and privacy), and I wanted to see what the government was arguing to support its case that they are entitled to snoop on everything we say or do on our smartphones.
The above article cites two further articles, one from Ars Technica’s Law & Disorder, and the other from Wall Street journal’s Digits.
In essence, the government is saying that a court can order anyone to cooperate with the government to get at data the government needs to enforce laws. The 1789 law, as amended, now reads:
28 U.S. Code § 1651 – Writs
(a) The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.
(b) An alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.
The article points out that the real purpose may be to stop technology companies from making smartphones or other devices that the government cannot get into.
The comments following the blog are outstanding. As is usually the case, many say that if the government wins this case, the “bad guys” will be the only ones left with good encryption, and the rest of us well face constant government surveillance, harassment, arrest and prosecution for things that shouldn’t be anyone else’s business. While I agree, I’ll let you decide.