San Bernardino victims to oppose Apple on iPhone encryption

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Apple Refuses Court Order to Unlock IPhone of San Bernardino Killer

Some victims of the San Bernardino attack will file a legal brief in support of the U.S. government's attempt to force Apple Inc to unlock the encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the shooters, a lawyer representing the victims said on Sunday.

SEE ALSO: Virginia's voter ID law challenged in federal trial

Stephen Larson, a former federal judge who is now in private practice, told Reuters that the victims he represents have an interest in the information which goes beyond the Justice Department's criminal investigation.

"They were targeted by terrorists, and they need to know why, how this could happen," Larson said.

Larson said he was contacted a week ago by the Justice Department and local prosecutors about representing the victims, prior to the dispute becoming public. He said he will file an amicus brief in court by early March.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the matter on Sunday.

Larson declined to say how many victims he represents. Fourteen people died and 22 others were wounded in the shooting attack by a married couple who were inspired by Islamic State militants and died in a gun battle with police.

Entry into the fray by victims gives the federal government a powerful ally in its fight against Apple, which has cast itself as trying to protect public privacy from overreach by the federal government.

See images from the case:

23 PHOTOS
FBI battles with Apple over San Bernardino shooters' iPhone, social reax
See Gallery
San Bernardino victims to oppose Apple on iPhone encryption
This is the most important tech case in a decade. Silence means @google picked a side, but it's not the public's. https://t.co/mi5irJcr25
I stand with Apple on privacy and FBI demand. It's not just marketing for @tim_cook and wasn't for Jobs. https://t.co/cZ1DOEs2RA
4/5 But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent
Apple has no problem trying to gather every bit of our personal data for marketing but obligated to protect privacy of dead mass murderers?
Any communications/tech CEO that isn't standing with Apple against the FBI is basically admitting that they've already been compromised.
Journalists: Crucial details in the @FBI v. #Apple case are being obscured by officials. Skepticism here is fair: https://t.co/lEVEvOxcNm
.@FBI “We want to get inside the iPhone no matter what.” @tim_cook “Not a chance.” FBI: “What if we made an album?” Tim: “I’m listening…”
Refusing access to #FBI shows terrorists they can get around FBI. Let's be clear: Apple is doing a service for our adversaries! #AppleVsFBI
"A man who is willing to trade security for liberty deserves neither." - Benjamin Franklin #AppleVsFBI #currentevents
The @FBI is creating a world where citizens rely on #Apple to defend their rights, rather than the other way around. https://t.co/vdjB6CuB7k
#AppleVsFBI is so much bigger than people realize. Keeping a close eye on this one
Speech can only be free when it is protected. —@mcuban #AppleVsFBI https://t.co/m41wKR31ET https://t.co/ng71CmYjeS
#Apple #AppleVsFBI Thanks @tim_cook for taking a stand https://t.co/tgWprQESyK https://t.co/qmFhovqIOl
I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery. Way to go #Apple. Born free staying free. #AppleVsFBI
Steve Jobs would've literally laughed in the FBI's face about them wanting Apple to create a backdoor to hack into a phone. #AppleVsFBI
Every candidate needs a mandatory 1 day crash course on encryption before poisoning public understanding of issue #GOPTownHall #AppleVsFBI
Keeping us safe by chipping away at our ability to preserve our right to privacy is the first step toward not being safe. @FBI #AppleVsFBI
So the company that put an entire U2 album onto my iPhone without asking is now all about privacy? #AppleVsFBI
There are no exceptions, we should never go down the slope of sacrificing privacy for the sake of security. #AppleVsFBI
Apple is right -- no matter how justified it may seem, turning over that data would set a terrible precedence. #ApplevsFBI
Thank you Tim Cook for making public a conflict that every citizen of the U.S. should be paying attention to. #AppleVsFBI
We should be less worried about apple and more worried about how the FBI can't get passed a locked iPhone #AppleVsFBI
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

An Apple spokesman declined to comment. In a letter to customers last week, Tim Cook, the company's chief executive, said: "We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected," saying that the company has "worked hard to support the government's efforts to solve this horrible crime."

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said in a letter released on Sunday night that the agency's request wasn't about setting legal precedent, but rather seeking justice for the victims and investigating other possible threats.

"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," Comey wrote.

The FBI is seeking the tech company's help to access shooter Syed Rizwan Farook's phone by disabling some of its passcode protections. The company so far has pushed back, arguing that such a move would set a dangerous precedent and threaten customer security.

The clash between Apple and the Justice Department has driven straight to the heart of a long-running debate over how much law enforcement and intelligence officials should be able to monitor digital communications.

The Justice Department won an order in a Riverside, California federal court on Tuesday against Apple, without the company present in court. Apple is scheduled to file its first legal arguments on Friday, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym, who served as a federal prosecutor before being appointed to the bench, has set a hearing on the issue for next month.

Larson once presided over cases in Riverside, and Pym argued cases in Larson's courtroom several times as a prosecutor while Larson was a judge, he said. Larson returned to private practice in 2009, saying at the time that a judge's salary was not enough to provide for his seven children.

He said he is representing the San Bernardino victims for free.

More from AOL.com:
Republicans are beating Democrats in getting out the vote
Teenage boy charged in death of 10-year-old sister
FBI fires back at Apple: 'We don't want to break anyone's encryption'

Read Full Story

People are Reading