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Apple says FBI has failed to prove necessity in New York iPhone unlock case

Apple in a court filing Friday argued the FBI has "utterly failed" to prove necessity in its request for assistance in extracting data from a passcode-locked iPhone related to a New York drug case.

Citing the Justice Department's recently withdrawn case in San Bernardino, in which an outside party provided technical assistance to successfully extract data from an impounded iPhone 5c, Apple lawyers assert the FBI is using the ongoing Brooklyn proceedings as a vehicle to to set wider precedent, reports The Mercury News.

The company is calling to dismiss the government's All Writs Act motion to compel.

"The government's failure to substantiate the need for Apple's assistance, alone, provides more than sufficient grounds to deny the government's application," today's filing reads.

Cited as evidence is the outcome of the highly contentious San Bernardino case, in which Apple was ordered to comply with FBI demands for assistance in extracting data from a passcode-locked iPhone used by terror suspect Syed Rizwan Farook. The motion was withdrawn in an eleventh hour decision made by prosecutors after an unnamed third party came forward with an alternative method of access. Like the New York case, prosecutors sought to compel Apple under the legal auspices of AWA, a piece of legislation designed to grant judges authority to issue orders if all other judicial instruments are exhausted.

Complicating matters for the DOJ is a March ruling from New York Magistrate Judge James Orenstein's, who decided the government's Brooklyn motion lacked legal authority to force Apple to undermine its own digital security protocols.

In an appeal being heard by New York District Court Judge Margo Brodie, the DOJ earlier this month said it would continue to pursue Apple's help in spite of having in its possession a working exploit. For its part, federal prosecutors claim investigators "require Apple's assistance in accessing the data that it is authorized to search by warrant," noting the hardware and software differences between Farook's iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s relevant to the Brooklyn case.

The DOJ points out that the Brooklyn phone is running iOS 7, meaning Apple can technically extract the data without inventing a software exploit. The San Bernardino iPhone 5c, while inferior to a 5s in terms of hardware, was running iOS 9. Apple instituted end-to-end encryption with iOS 8, a security measure the company claims even it can't break.