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US government forcing through a dozen more iPhone court orders

The US government is reportedly attempting to force Apple to crack up to a dozen more iPhones, according to a new report.

There’s been plenty of controversy of late with the FBI initiating a court order to have Apple provide back-door access to an iPhone linked with the San Bernardino shootings.

Apple, for its part, has pushed back on the grounds of customer privacy concerns, but the US government has insisted that this is a one-off case.

That latter argument seems to have been weakened by claims that there are up to a dozen more similar cases proceeding through the US courts. The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Justice Department is pursuing court orders to extract data from iPhones for a number of hitherto undisclosed cases around the country.

Prosecutors in these cases are apparently attempting to use the same 18th-century All Writs Act, as is being used to justify the San Bernardino case. However, none of the additional cases in question are linked to terrorism.

It’s also claimed that many of these other cases involve phones that run on older versions of Apple’s iOS platform, which are less problematic to crack.

Related: Apple vs the FBI: Your questions answered

These revelations, if proven accurate, are likely to strengthen Apple’s side of the argument in the short-term. The iPhone maker claims that the main San Bernardino case will set a dangerous precedent when it comes to forcibly bypassing its own encryption methods, and that it’s unlikely to be a one-off request.

Of course, as the report points out, prosecutors could also cite these additional cases as proof that current smartphone encryption is persistently getting in the way of serious criminal investigation work.

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