A new concern for Apple has come to light with experts suggesting the Cupertino giant could be looking at anything from heavy monetary penalties to jail time for CEO Tim Cook if it continues to deny the FBI’s demand for backdoor access to the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.
In an email to Fast Company, Cooper Levenson attorney Peter Fu suggests that if Apple ignores the court order signed by the Magistrate Judge of the US District Court for California’s Central District, the company could be charged with contempt of court. This could be accompanied by heavy fines if the DOJ is able to have its argument upheld on the basis of the All Writs Act, which Apple’s attorneys are looking to challenge.
If Apple is unable to defend itself against said argument, it could be looking at fines ranging from “hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars,” according to Fu. As an example of what course of action could be taken, Andrew Crocker, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, quotes a 2014 case that saw the US government use a fine of $250,000 per day, set to double every week, to force Yahoo to share data with the NSA.
Tim Cook has previously expressed his willingness to take this case to the Supreme Court. If it does indeed come to that, however, and Apple still decides to fight the creation of the so-called “GovtOS” backdoor for the FBI, Cook could end up behind bars, or so Fu believes.
“Under these circumstances, there is a universe of possibilities where Tim Cook could actually go to jail for refusing to comply with a lawful order of the court.”
It is believed to be unlikely for the case to carry on to said stage, though, and even more so for it to end in the Apple CEO’s incarceration. It is being argued that imprisonment is likely to turn Tim Cook into a martyr in the fight for digital rights – a state of affairs that could see the government wade into hot water with the general public.
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