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Apple & Google have faced 63 All Writs Act-related orders to access devices, ACLU says

The U.S. federal government has invoked the All Writs Act at least 63 times to compel Apple and Google to help unlock devices involved in investigations, the American Civil Liberties Union said on Wednesday.

Image Credit: ACLU

Image Credit: ACLU


Most of the cases appear to involve drug-related crimes, the ACLU noted. The number of unlock-related orders may theoretically be higher, but in some instances the government did not publicly specify what kind of help it was seeking.

For Apple, the greatest concentrations of court orders have come in New York state (12) and California (11), according to ACLU data. Many other states have also played host however, some examples being Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, and Washington.

There are also a number of states where no orders have been issued against Apple or Google, such as Texas and Colorado. Only in one state, Oregon, has there been an order served against Google but not one against Apple. Indeed, Apple devices have been subject more frequently as a rule.

The All Writs Act was once at the center of an FBI attempt to unlock the iPhone of San Benardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Apple argued that it couldn't be forced to write new software under the act, and was prepared to challenge that point in court until the U.S. Department of Justice withdrew its legal action, saying it had discovered a way into the iPhone without Apple's help.

That outcome could impact at least one case in New York, which was put into limbo pending developments surrounding Farook's phone.