FBI versus Apple case
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ISOL 633 – Homework I
BACKGROUND: Syed Rizwan Farook, an environmental health inspector, and wife, Tashfeen
Malik, on December 2, 2015, killed 14 co-workers and wounded 17 others at the Inland
Regional Center, a Social Services Center in San Bernardino, California that provided
services for disabled individuals. Farook was carrying an iPhone 5c, which the FBI
believes contains information that would assist them greatly in identifying accomplices,
and other third parties who assisted in either planning and/or carrying out the attack,
provided weapons, or who communicated with Farook about other future planned
attacks. The FBI attempted during December 2015 to unlock Farook’s iPhone in order to
get access to information that the phone may contain. However, they were unsuccessful
in unlocking the phone. Therefore they met with Apple and other tech leaders for
assistance in unlocking the phone. The FBI requested of a Federal Judge in California,
and received, an Order directing Apple to create software that would allow the FBI to
bypass the security feature that prohibited the FBI from attempting no more than 10
times to break the passcode on the phone. Apple defied the Court Order asserting that
the Court’s order essentially required it to create a “backdoor” that would undermine the
privacy of iPhones around the world. Apple also asserted that it would be bad publicity
for it and adversely affect its market share. Apple appealed to the Court of Appeals the
the U.S. District Magistrate Judge’s Order. The debate has become one of national
security vs. personal privacy until such time as the U.S. Justice Department withdrew its
request, and asked that its case against Apple be dismissed as an unidentified third party
had provided assistance in allowing it to by-pass the phone’s feature that prohibited no
more than 10 attempts to unlock the phone’s security. However, the debate is not over,
and undoubtedly similar cases will be litigated in the future.
INSTRUCTIONS: For homework I, you are to do the following:
1. Write a more detailed introduction to the facts of this case, explaining to the best of your
ability the facts that have been loosely outlined above. Please cite all of your sources.
2. As the semester progresses, you will read about “precedence”, “jurisdictional issues”,
“procedural issues”, different types of law (i.e., statutory law, case law, constitutional
law, and other), and other legal concepts. Please explain to the best of your ability,
applying what you have learned during the semester, as well as information you have
researched, the legal argument that the U.S. Justice Department (FBI) relied on in
arguing to the U.S. District Court, and on appeal, why the Court should order Apple to
provide the by-pass feature to override the security on the phone. For each law that you
cite, explain what it is and how the Justice Department used that law to advance its
3. Please explain to the best of your ability, applying what you have learned during the
semester, as well as additional information you have researched, the legal argument that
Apple relied on in arguing to the U.S. District Court, and on appeal, why the Court
should not order it to provide the by-pass feature to override the security on the phone.
For each law that you cite, explain what it is and how Apple used that law to advance its
4. State which legal argument (that of the U.S. Justice Department or Apple) which you
believe is more compelling and which should have prevailed had the Justice Department
not been able to obtain the assistance of a third party in bypassing the security feature on
the phone. Support your conclusion by explaining the logic you relied upon.
5. Explain whether you believe the US Justice Department (FBI) vs. Apple case has
implications for future similar cases, and if so in what manner do you believe future
similar cases will be impacted by this case.
This assignment is due on August 7, 2016 at 11:30 p.m.
It is not necessary that you use any particular model formatting. However, your paper should be
submitted in a WORD format, using no less than a 1 inch margin, top, bottom, left and right.
Further the paper should be double spaced, and you should use subheadings where appropriate.
Cite all sources. You decide whether you will use endnotes or footnotes. Please include your
name and student id on your submission. You should plan to give your submission a title.
Please include page number on the bottom center of each page.