DOJ Reached Out To San Bernardino Victims For Legal Support Before Going To Court Against Apple

from the and-they-want-us-to-believe-it's-not-a-pr-campaign? dept

The FBI keeps insisting that it's legal fight with Apple is not about the precedent and not about using the tragic incident in San Bernardino as an emotional plug to break down strong encryption. And yet... now it's come out that even before going to court, federal prosecutors from the DOJ went to the families of those killed in the San Bernardino attacks and asked them to file an amicus brief of support with the court:

Stephen Larson, the lawyer for the victims, told the Guardian the office of the US attorney for the central district of California contacted him on 14 February with a request to file a brief asking Apple to aid in unlocking the phone.

On 16 February, the federal attorney, Eileen Decker, requested a federal magistrate, judge Sheri Pym, issue a warrant for the unlocked iPhone 5C. Pym provided it that day.

Even more interesting? Larson himself hadn't previously been representing any of the victims. Instead, the local district attorney "connected him" with survivors and relatives of those killed.

It's not clear who he's actually representing right now. So far, at least a few of the relatives of those murdered have actually come out in support of Apple. We already mentioned Karen Fagan:
Karen Fagan, of Upland, is the ex-wife of Harry “Hal” Bowman and mother of their two daughters.

“This is a very different thing than asking for data that is Apple’s possession,” Fagan wrote in an email. “They have complied with all of those requests. This is asking them to build a new piece of technology that could be used to invade the privacy of any iPhone. Furthermore, the FBI is citing an act written in 1789 (instead of new legislative action) to justify their request.

“I know that it is a tempting argument to say that we should allow government access to private information in order to make people feel safe. After all, the argument goes, people who aren’t breaking the law have nothing to hide. While that may be true, American citizens have been granted privacy rights, and this request breaches those rights,” Fagan wrote.
And then there's Carole Adams as well:
Her son was killed in the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre — but Carole Adams agrees with Apple that personal privacy trumps the feds’ demands for new software to break into iPhones, including the phone of her son’s killer.

The mom of Robert Adams — a 40-year-old environmental health specialist who was shot dead by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife — told The Post on Thursday that the constitutional right to privacy “is what makes America great to begin with.”

[....]

“This is what separates us from communism, isn’t it? The fact we have the right to privacy,” she said. “I think Apple is definitely within their rights to protect the privacy of all Americans.
I'm sure that plenty of others will sign on to Larson's amicus brief, but the fact that it was all pre-vetted by the DOJ certainly seems noteworthy, and highlights how the DOJ/FBI recognize how much of a publicity stunt this case really is.
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Filed Under: amicus brief, doj, fbi, precedent, publicity stunt, san bernardino, victims
Companies: apple


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2016 @ 12:02pm

    I certainly don't want some authoritarian dingaling parading my body (or loved ones) around for their cause. I should be making this more clear to those I know, in case it actually (however highly unlikely).

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