Philip Elmer-DeWitt, Fortune:
But “police state” is not a bad description for the scenario the DOJ paints a few pages later in Footnote Nine:
“9. For the reasons discussed above, the FBI cannot itself modify the software on [the San Bernardino shooter’s] iPhone without access to the source code and Apple’s private electronic signature. The government did not seek to compel Apple to turn those over because it believed such a request would be less palatable to Apple. If Apple would prefer that course, however, that may provide an alternative that requires less labor by Apple programmers.”
Did you catch that? That’s a classic police threat: We can do this easy way or the hard way. Give us the little thing we’re asking for—a way to bypass your security software—or we’ll take whole thing: Your crown jewels and the royal seal too.
As John Gruber points out, this isn’t a property seizure due to a suspicion that Apple is behaving criminally. This is just the DOJ threatening to break their kneecaps if they don’t comply: That’s a nice operating system you’ve got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.
Actions like these cannot be legitimized. This is disturbing.