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Law enforcement groups, San Bernardino victims file in support of government in Apple vs FBI row

Following friend of the court filings in support of Apple's stance on encryption, law enforcement groups and the families of six San Bernardino victims issued countering arguments on Thursday backing the government.

In a filing prepared by California attorney Stephen Larson, victims' families say that data on an iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook could prove valuable to the ongoing terror investigation and yield answers for families of victims seeking closure, reports BuzzFeed News, which obtained a copy of the document on Thursday. Larson, who previously served as a federal prosecutor and judge in Los Angeles, was asked by U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker and San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos to file the brief representing government interests.

"Ultimately, this is a situation where no stone can be left unturned," the filing reads. It goes on to argue that while the larger debate over encryption has spiraled into arguments over international precedent, the FBI in the case at hand is looking to combat terrorism at home.

Represented by the brief are Greg Clayborn, James Godoy, Tina Meins, Mark Sandefur, Robert Velasco and Hal Houser. Five of the six families lost loved ones in the attack.

"Apple has defended its stance by invoking the public's right to privacy, but that is not what this case is about," the brief says, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News. "This case is about the United States' ability to successfully execute a search warrant ... on an iPhone used by a terrorist."

In a separate joint filing from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and National Sheriffs' Association, interested parties say Apple's stance is "dangerous." Apple, backed by tech firms and rights groups, is resisting a federal court order to assist in an FBI investigation of Farook's iPhone. The order compels Apple to write a version of iOS vulnerable to brute-force passcode attacks, a move Apple argues threatens the security of all devices running its mobile operating system.

"If Apple can refuse lawful court orders to reasonably assist law enforcement, public safety will suffer. Crimes will go unsolved and criminals will go free," the filing reads.

Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym will review the amicus briefs from both sides ahead of a hearing scheduled for March 22.