The United States Justice Department on Friday sought a court order to force tech behemoth to help unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernadino shooters, which the company had refused to do saying it would set precedent with have far-reaching data security consequences. The government's latest move is being seen as an escalation into a legal showdown.

The Justice Department’s motion, filed in a federal court in California, denied Apple’s claim the Federal Bureau of Investigation request would create a “backdoor” into every other iPhone in the world. “It [the original order] does not provide 'hackers and criminals' access to iPhones; it does not require Apple to ‘hack [its] own users” or to 'decrypt' its own phones,” the motion said. It adds that Apple’s non-compliance has arisen out of “marketing concerns”.

Apple had publicly refused to help the department break into the phone of Syed Farook, one of the two shooters who killed 14 people in December in an act widely described as terrorism. The company’s CEO Tim Cook had raised serious privacy concerns following the government’s request. He was backed by other major firms including Google and Facebook, while whisteblower Edward Snowden had dubbed the issue “the most important tech case in a decade”.