By Alex Fitzpatrick
February 25, 2016

Apple filed a legal motion Feb. 25 rejecting the government’s request to help it access data on a password-protected iPhone used by a deceased terrorism suspect.

A federal judge ordered Apple on Feb. 16 to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation bypass the iPhone’s password protections. The company signaled its intent to refuse the judge’s instructions in a letter posted by CEO Tim Cook shortly thereafter.

Apple’s formal response is detailed and wide-ranging. But one argument is particularly notable: Apple says that complying with the judge’s order would mean prosecutors across the country come out of the woodwork with similar demands, rendering the company’s security measures useless:

The motion also contains several powerful metaphors, including the following (emphasis added):

The iPhone was used by to Syed Farook, one of two suspected assailants in terrorism-linked shootings on Dec. 2 that left 14 people dead.

Write to Alex Fitzpatrick at alex.fitzpatrick@time.com.

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