Which US laws make it impossible to force Apple to help the FBI to access a suspect's data.

Which US laws make it impossible to force Apple to help the FBI to access a suspect’s data. Have there been any Supreme Court rulings on this matter? I look forward to your feedback.

But Apple on Tuesday disputed Barr’s claims they stonewalled the probe, claiming instead they gave federal authorities several gigabytes of information — including iCloud backups, account information and transactional data.
But the company indicated that it would not help the feds get into Alshamrani’s two iPhones.

Since what Apple does is not illegal, isn’t what you’re really asking: Which US laws don’t exist that would make the way Apple encrypts its phones illegal?

There does not seem to be a particular law that clearly protects Apple from a court order to unlock an iPhone. The main problem is that Apple most likely is not capable of unlocking an iPhone without a very extensive amount of work — like, perhaps months or more of work, with no particular guarantee that it would be successful.

There is a dispute on whether the government order under the All Writs Act extends to being able to direct Apple to undertake such an activity. A court case in 2016 was set to decide the issue, but then the FBI found a third party which was able to crack into the locked iPhone. This meant that the Government no longer needed Apple’s assistance, so the case was dropped without a judge deciding on the law.

The only way that Apple could help the FBI with what they’re looking for is to change the operating system in such a way that they could access everyone’s data. Most Apple users have not committed a crime, nor been accused of committing a crime.

From what I gathered from the last time this came up (was that the San Bernadino shooting?), it’s not that they won’t, it’s that they literally can’t break the encryption.

What they say the won’t do is add a “back door” to allow the government to easily access the data on suspects’ iPhones in the future. Their argument (which I agree with) is that there is no such thing as a back door that only works for the good guys. If they added such a feature like the government wants, eventually hackers will figure out how to access it.

Thanks wevets. That is one way of asking.
As far as I know, there are certain privacy rights, but there are no general constitutional or statutory right of privacy. So do those privacy rights have no loopholes for the FBI/authorities to access someone phone if they are unwilling to unlock it? Is there any movement in the courts to introduce laws to enable the authorities to access smart device data that the divide owners are unwilling to provide in searches?

Courts don’t introduce laws. Legislatures do.

Once again: the main issue is technological, not legal. Modern encryption is almost like an unbreakable lock. Just because authorities may be provided the legal authority to open the lock does not mean it is possible to do so.

There’s no law that requires Apple to build a phone with a way for the government to access the contents of the phone, much like there’s no law that requires safe-builders to put in an extra hatch for government agents to get access. Does that help?

Thank you all. Very helpful

To make the Apple case once again, though the OP has been answered, Apple’s position is that once they develop the backdoor then it exists. Since it then exists, any country, the most prominent examples are the UK and the US, already have the legal authority to force Apple to secretly use that backdoor on any device the Government wishes. And to keep this action a secret. That destroys a key marketing value of the iPhone which is why Apple is opposed to this idea.

Apple goes further than that. A backdoor that circumvents encryption is not only a vulnerability to governments carrying out legal searches. The mere existence of a backdoor is a very serious security vulnerability that could (and most certainly will) be exploited by bad actors, from hostile governments to hackers to identity thieves.

IANAL but lets back up a bit. In the United States, can a third party ever be forced to participate in an investigation? If the police need help opening a safe, can they force a locksmith (not a party to the investigation) to open it and if they refuse can the police arrest the locksmith for obstruction of justice?

The type of assistance that comes immediately to mind is that telephone companies are required to provide technical assistance for authorities carrying out wiretaps.

The laws of mathematics apply in all countries. Apple couldn’t unlock those phones if they wanted to. Even the FBI can’t change that, no matter what the laws say.

They could hire, but force? I don’t see how.

In reality, they don’t need to do this, because the government agencies have experts to do this. Therefore, there is already a backdoor to a safe. This is exactly the reason encryptions are designed this way and they encourage people to use long strong passwords, so no one else can get it.

Exactly. They can huff and puff all they wish about laws, but the technology will rule.

I believe this is political thing, that they want to be able to read anyone’s secured data, and with the current administration I don’t trust their leadership to have good intentions.

Those requirements are preexisting and derive from the federal government’s authority to regulate and license telecom providers. There’s no analogous legal authority for phone manufacturers, though in theory they could create a similar requirement for wireless carriers; that would basically force Apple to comply, or effectively shut them out of 90% of the new phone market (since most people buy or lease their phones from their carriers).

True, but courts do make law - just not by statute.

Also, with the current administration, the information regarding a back door most likely WILL get out.

Backdoors, accidental or deliberate, are already systematically exploited. The same NSO Group that the FBI consulted to crack some iPhones has infamously contracted with anyone and everyone; their spyware was used by the Saudi officials who tracked and murdered Khashoggi, for instance.

It’s understandable that Apple may be loath to roll out backdoored versions of their software and hardware when the consequences of such are well documented.