SAN FRANCISCO: The US founding fathers "would be appalled" by a Department of Justice request to unlock an encrypted iPhone, Apple Inc said on Tuesday in its final brief before a court showdown next week.
The dispute between Apple and the government burst into the open last month when the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a court order requiring Apple to write new software and take other measures to disable passcode protection and allow access to the phone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, Rizwan Farook.
Apple on Tuesday said Congress had declined to give the Justice Department the authority to compel Apple`s help.
"Although silence is sometimes a weak indicator of intent, it is a different story when Congress actively considers legislation to address a major policy issue, yet deliberately declines to enact it," Apple said.
According to Apple, the government also believes the courts can order private parties "to do virtually anything the Justice Department and FBI can dream up. The Founders would be appalled."
Apple and the government have had several heated exchanges in court papers over the case in which law enforcement officials have said last December`s shootings by Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were inspired by Islamist militants. The FBI wants to read data on the phone to try and find out whether or not the couple had contacts with militant groups.
The government has asked Apple to create a new version of its operating system, which would circumvent a feature that erases data on an iPhone after too many incorrect passwords are entered.
In a court filing last week the government suggested that it could also have the authority to seek Apple`s source code and signing key. If the government did obtain that code, experts said it could access an unlimited number of devices, not just Farook`s phone.
In response to the government, Apple said "the catastrophic security implications of that threat only highlight the government`s fundamental misunderstanding or reckless disregard of the technology at issue and the security risks implicated by its suggestion."
Additionally, Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said the company has never provided any government with its proprietary source code, according to a sworn statement filed in court.
Farook and Malik shot and killed 14 people on Dec 2 at a holiday party. The couple later died in a shootout with police.
Tech industry leaders including Google, Facebook and Microsoft and more than two dozen other companies filed legal briefs earlier this month supporting Apple. The Justice Department received support from law enforcement groups and six relatives of San Bernardino victims.