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The legal battle between Apple and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) over a locked iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters may be over, but the Department of Justice (DoJ) are back in front of a judge with a similar request.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has discovered publicly available court documents that revealed the government has asked Google’s assistance to help the Feds hack into at least nine locked Android smartphones citing the All Writs Act.

Yes, Apple is not the only company facing government requests over privacy and security — Google is also in the list.

The Google court documents released by the ACLU show that many federal agencies have been using the All Writs Act – the same ancient law the DoJ was invoking in the San Bernardino case to compel Apple to help the FBI in the terrorist investigation.

Additionally, the ACLU also released 54 court cases in which the federal authorities asked Apple for assistance to help them access information from a locked iPhone. However, this is the first time it has confirmed that Google has also received such requests.

All the cases appear to be closed, and the company is believed to have complied with all of the court orders. As in the majority of cases, Google was required to reset the passwords or bypass the lock screens of Samsung, HTC phones, Kyocera and Alcatel, among a number of other unidentified Android devices.

Unlike Apple, Google Can Reset Android Devices Remotely


In 2015, the New York District Attorney revealed that Google can remotely reset Android device password, in case a court demands access to it.

In other words, unlike Apple, Google has technical abilities to reset device passcode for about 74% of Android users (~Billions) running all versions older than Android 5.0 Lollipop that does not have full disk encryption.

Google had been ordered for technical assistance by many federal agencies over several cases including:
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in an investigation of an alleged child pornographer in California.
  • The FBI in the investigation of an alleged cocaine dealer, who go by the name “Grumpy,” in New Mexico.
  • The Bureau of Land Management in the investigation of an alleged marijuana grow operation in Oregon
  • The Secret Service in an unknown court case in North Carolina.
However, Google said none of the cases required the company to write new backdoored software for the federal government.
"We carefully scrutinize subpoenas and court orders to make sure they meet both the letter and spirit of the law," a Google spokesman said in a statement. "However, we have never received an All Writs Act order like the one Apple recently fought that demands we build new tools that actively compromise our products’ security….We would strongly object to such an order."
No doubt, 1789 All Writs Act is being misused as a tool against encryption, which was never intended to allow the government to dictate software design.

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