The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has uncovered more than 63 cases in which the government has requested Apple and Google to break into the local storage of mobile devices, under the All Writs Act. All cases were published Thursday on an interactive map.
Last week, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said to the court that it has apparently discovered a method to get data from an iPhone that belonged to the San Bernardino shooters. If it works, Apple will not need to create “an iPhone backdoor”.
The government had previously argued that Apple needed to unlock just one phone, to collaborate with the investigation into the 2015 San Bernardino shootings, that killed 14 people and injured 22. If the tech company agreed to create an unlocking method, it would have been destroyed after solving that specific case, said the FBI.
However, it appears that the case was about more than just one iPhone. In fact, there have been more than 63 requests from the government to tech leaders like Apple and Google, asking for data from mobile devices, which has been possible due to the All Writs Act.
The All Writs Act was passed in 1789, giving courts the authority “to issue orders necessary to enforce” decisions, explains the ACLU. Since 2008, one year after the first iPhone model was released, the government has trusted the same law to request tech companies to unlock dozens of devices.
The ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts have conducted an investigation and found out that there are 63 confirmed cases, in which the government has tried to force Apple and Google to provide access to the local storage of a mobile device, under the All Writs Act.
The same non-profit organization said that most cases have been related to investigations into drug crimes. All cases have been collected into an interactive map, that features locations, dates, docket numbers and federal agencies in charge of them. Moreover, the ACLU has gathered public court documents of the cases.
You can access all public court documents by clicking kere: ACLU
The Stanford Center for Internet and Society alongside the ACLU have requested access to additional All Writs Act cases, under the Freedom of Information Act, which gives access to information from the federal government.
“There are even more cases out there. In addition to the 63 confirmed cases, we know of up to 13 additional cases, which are reflected on the map. Apple has identified 12 pending cases (though their docket numbers remain unknown), and we uncovered one case in Massachusetts” Said the ACLU in a statement published Thursday.