WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- The Department of Justice slammed Apple for "false" and "corrosive" rhetoric in a new document released Thursday.
The DOJ's brief is the latest salvo in the escalating legal battle between the FBI and Apple over whether the the company can be forced to create a security bypass for federal agents to access information on the iPhone of San Bernardino attacker Syed Farook.
The DOJ declared "Apple's rhetoric is not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights" in the document.
Apple has argued complying would leave their products vulnerable and could also open a new doorway to government spying on citizens.
The document is the DOJ's legal response to Apple's refusal to comply to the United States District Court in California, which ordered Apple to assist the FBI. In it, DOJ argues the original court order "does not compel it to unlock other iPhones or to give the government a universal 'master key' or 'back door.' It is a narrow, targeted order that will produce a narrow, targeted piece of software capable of running on just one iPhone, in the security of Apple's corporate headquarters.
The DOJ also argued the order doesn't invade anyone's privacy or violate the Fourth Amendment because the phone belongs to the County of San Bernardino, not Farook, and he consented to have it searched as part of the now-dead terrorist's employment agreement.
They also insist this issue exists only because Apple built "warrant-proof" phones for marketing reasons.
Apple's SVP and chief legal counsel Bruce Sewell said in a Thursday conference call to reporters, "The tone of the brief reads like an indictment." Sewell continued he's never read a brief trying so hard 'to smear" someone. "It should be deeply offensive to everyone who reads it."
The FBI will face off against Apple at a March 22 hearing in Riverside, Calif.