Apple supporters plan rally as Justice Dept. escalates standoff over terrorist’s iPhone

A contentious battle between the Justice Department and Apple is showing no sign of slowing down, with a court hearing scheduled for March in a case pitting national security interests against privacy concerns and nationwide rallies in support of the tech company set for Tuesday.

The Justice Department has escalated the standoff, saying the tech giant’s resistance to a court order that would force it to unlock an iPhone for law enforcement is based on concern for its “reputation and marketing strategy.”

Justice attorneys made the accusation in a motion filed Friday to compel Apple to immediately comply with an earlier court order that has to do with the cellphone that belonged to deceased gunman Syed Rizwan Farook. Investigators are seeking access to data on the phone to piece together more information about the Dec. 2 terrorist attack that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California.

In the motion, attorneys deconstructed concerns that Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed about the court order in an open letter published on the company’s website, noting that the company “did not assert that it lacks the technical capability to execute the Order, that it is not essential to gaining access into the iPhone, or that it would be too time- or labor-intensive.”

Instead, it noted that Apple’s opposition stems from “a perceived negative impact on its reputation and marketing strategy were it to provide the ordered assistance to the government.”
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