Apple has had a big win in the courts with a US magistrate judge ruling that the US government can’t force the company to help law enforcement agencies unlock an iPhone.
The case in question was related to drug trafficking. The San Bernardino case is another matter altogether.
Nonetheless, it’s an important case for Apple because of its precedent value.
In his ruling, US magistrate judge James Orenstein said he did not have the legal authority to order Apple to disable the security of the iPhone seized during a drug investigation.
The significance of that is that this is similar to the submissions Apple has made in the San Bernardino case.
Judge Orenstein’s finding that a 1789 law called the All Writs Act cannot be used to force Apple to open the phone is pertinent here.
If the California case regarding the phone used by the gunman who killed 14 people in San Bernardino in December reaches the courts, it’s likely that Orenstein’s opinion may inform the court’s decision.
Orenstein was the first judge to look at what the government can and cannot explore.
The US government is expected to appeal.