Government is on a coast-to-cast phone-unlocking rampage


The government has big plans for the All Writs Act. Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr CC

Right from the start, the current iPhone vs. FBI standoff has revolved around whether it was focused on unlocking one specific handset or setting a precedent that would allow the Justice Department to unlock any phone it wanted.

Well, if you wanted evidence that the government is using the All Writs Act to try and force Apple and Google to unlock a whole lot of smartphones around the U.S., look no further than the below infographic.

Compiled by the ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts, the map is based on publicly-available documents filed with federal courts, concerning the government’s supposed “improper use of the All Writs Act to force Apple and Google to help unlock mobile devices and give law enforcement access to the data stored on them.”

Given that a New York court has already deemed the All Writs Act insufficient for forcing Apple to unlock its iPhone as part of a criminal investigation, it’s not known how all of these cases will play out around the United States.

Still, it’s a sobering reminder for Apple, Google, and users in general that the whole San Bernardino case was never about just one phone.

Source: ACLU