April 8, 2016 Last Updated 1:48 pm

FBI asks Apple unlock iPhone in NYC drug case

The FBI is once again asking for Apple’s help, this time in a drug case in New York. On Friday, federal prosecutors sent a letter to a federal judge in Brooklyn stating that they need Apple to unlock an iPhone 5s to aid in a drug trafficking case, saying they plan to appeal a previous ruling against them.

In the Brooklyn case authorities are not asking Apple to write new software, unlike the case of the San Bernardino shooter. In that case, the DOJ dropped its case after it found an outside firm to help it unlock the iPhone.

A judge has already ruled once against authorities in this drug case.

“Over the course of the next year, although the prosecution of Feng and his codefendants moved forward (as did, presumably, the government’s investigation of the unknown others mentioned in the indictment), the government apparently did nothing at all to discover what evidence, if any, could be gleaned from Feng’s iPhone,” Judge James Orenstein ruled in February.

Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News says that an Apple source told him that the company would continue fighting government efforts due to the precedent it would set.

Apple attorneys, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Friday they will continue to resist any order forcing the company to help the FBI in the case, arguing that the New York case shows the government is trying to set a broad precedent that would require tech firms such as Apple to crack their own security protections to aid in law enforcement investigations. Unlike the San Bernardino terror case, where federal prosecutors argued they needed the help to fight terrorism, Apple lawyers say the Brooklyn case involves an unnecessary request to unlock an iPhone in a routine sentencing of a methamphetamine dealer.

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