U.S. judge in Boston ordered Apple to help law enforcement examine iPhone

A worker checks an iPhone in a repair store in New York, February 17, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

BOSTON (Reuters) - A U.S. magistrate judge in Boston in February ordered Apple Inc to assist law enforcement officers in examining the iPhone of an alleged gang member, according to a court filing unsealed on Friday.

“Reasonable technical assistance consists of, to the extent possible, extracting data from the device, copying the data from the device onto an external hard drive or other storage medium and returning the aforementioned storage medium to law enforcement,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler wrote.

Apple has been under pressure in recent months to assist law enforcement agencies in searching its iPhones after the U.S. Justice Department sought access to a phone used by a gunman who fatally shot 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December. The FBI has since said it has figured out a secret method for unlocking iPhones.

Apple objected to the Boston order on the same grounds as it did in the San Bernardino case, an Apple employee briefed on the matter said, and the government did not pursue the matter in this case.

Additional reporting by Joseph Ax in New York and Joseph Menn in San Francisco