Apple claims that forcing it to unlock an iPhone violates the First Amendment

Just pull on it.
Just pull on it.
Image: Reuters/Stephen Lam
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“This is not a case about one isolated iPhone.”

That’s the opening line of Apple’s motion (pdf) to overturn an order to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooting suspects.

The motion continues:

This case is about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld: the ability to force companies like Apple to undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe.

Apple makes many claims in the motion, but the most striking is that the US government’s request would violate the first amendment of the US constitution.

The government’s request here creates an unprecedented burden on Apple and violates Apple’s First Amendment rights against compelled speech, as discussed below… The government asks this Court to command Apple to write software that will neutralize safety features that Apple has built into the iPhone in response to consumer privacy concerns. … This amounts to compelled speech and viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.

In a summary of the motion, Apple said it has been cooperating with authorities and called the government’s order “unprecedented.” The company wrote:

No court has ever granted the government power to force companies like Apple to weaken its security systems to facilitate the government’s access to private individuals’ information