A New York judge on Monday ruled that the United States government cannot force Apple Inc to unlock an iPhone seized in a drugs case. The government had sought access to the phone in October, Reuters reported. This comes at a time when the technology giant is resisting the Federal Bureau of Investigation's demand to create a software that can help them dodge the security system of an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attacks.

The US Magistrate said a 1789 law called the All Writs Act cannot be used to force Apple to open up the phone, as the company is largely exempt from complying with such requests by a 1994 amendment that updated wiretapping laws. The verdict also reiterates the company's stand that such requests will have far-reaching consequences.

According to the the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act of 1994, telecommunications carriers are required to design their networks and services so that the government, “pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization,” can intercept communications. However, the CALEA specifically excludes providers of “information services", and the Act defines Apple services like iMessage and iCloud as “information services”, reported Forbes. Though the Brooklyn verdict will not be binding in the San Bernardino case, it is likely to influence the outcome.