‘WSJ’: Justice Department also wants data from about 12 other iPhones

According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Justice Department is looking at court orders forcing Apple to help investigators extract data from iPhones in about a dozen undisclosed cases across the country in addition to the San Bernardino, California, shooting case.

Attributing the info to a newly unsealed court document, the article says other phones are evidence in cases where prosecutors have sought to use an 18th century law, the All Writs Act, to compel Apple bypass the passcode security features. However, the details of these dozen cases aren’t public and don’t seem to involve any terrorism charges, according to the WSJ.

The All Writs Act, first passed in its current form in 1911, is a United States federal statute that authorizes United States federal courts to "issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.” The U.S. government has revived the All Writs Act in cases against terrorists, notably to gain access to password protected mobile phones in domestic terrorism investigations.

Many view the San Bernardino case as having the potential to set significant precedent in what law enforcement can compel tech companies to do to aid them. Many of Apple's supporters argue that a vital precedent is at stake — if tech companies can be legally compelled to write new code to hack their users, everyone is less safe as a result.