Apple and the Department of Justice are fighting over an order from a federal magistrate in California that the company must help the FBI try to get into Riverside gunman Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone by disabling a feature that would lock investigators out if they made 10 unsuccessful tries to determine the correct password.
Feb. 16 Federal magistrate Sheri Pym in California orders Apple to help the FBI try to get into Farook's iPhone by disabling a feature that would lock investigators out if they made 10 unsuccessful tries to determine the correct password.
That same day, Apple CEO Tim Cook publishes an 1,100 word response on Apple’s website, calling the request “chilling,” and “an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” he wrote.
Feb. 19. The Department of Justice escalates the battle with a filing that attempted to force Apple to comply with the FBI request. “Apple’s current refusal to comply with the court’s order, despite the technical feasibility of doing so, instead appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy,” the department says.
Later in the day, Apple spoke to reporters, saying the Apple ID on the phone had been changed less than 24 hours after government took possession of the device. Had that not happened, a backup of information the government was seeking may have been possible. Apple also said it had been working with the government since the initial requests came in, recommending four different ways to recover the data without building the backdoor.
Feb. 21 In comments posted on the FBI site, Director James Comey says the San Bernardino litigation "isn't about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message. It is about the victims and justice. Fourteen people were slaughtered and many more had their lives and bodies ruined. We owe them a thorough and professional investigation under law. That's what this is. The American people should expect nothing less from the FBI."
Feb. 23 Rallies held nationwide in support of Apple draw small but ardent crowds.
Feb. 25 Apple files its opposition to the court order, called an application for relief. In a call with reporters, Apple calls the software the FBI wanted it to write "government OS." The company's legal arguments were based on a rejection of a 1977 Supreme Court decision, United States v. New York Telephone. That case in turn used the All Writs Act of 1789 which gives a judge the right to order something be done even when there's no clear Congressional mandate to follow such an order.
Feb 26 Tech companies including Google, Facebook and Twitter say they will file friend of the court (amicus) briefs in support of Apple.
March 3 A group of 17 tech companies that included the industry's biggest names file court statements backing Apple. A second coalition that grouped 15 mature tech companies with younger start-ups — including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Cisco, Microsoft, Mozilla, Snapchat, Box, Slack and Yahoo — also file in support of Apple, along with AT&T, Intel, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 46 technologists, researchers and cryptographers.