Apple privacy battle may stretch to 12 iPhones: WSJ

An Apple iPhone 5S with fingerprint technology security.
Gordon Chibroski | Portland Press Herald | Getty Images
An Apple iPhone 5S with fingerprint technology security.

As debate surrounding an ongoing court case between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hits fever pitch, new reports indicate there's more than just one locked iPhone at stake.

The U.S. Justice Department wants Apple to help investigators extract data from twelve iPhones related to separate cases, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The dozen phones were captured in various criminal investigations across the U.S. but unlike the San Bernardino investigation, no terrorism charges are involved, the WSJ noted.

Many of the twelve phones feature older Apple operating systems, which have fewer security barriers to overcome, it added.

No more details of the twelve cases were given.

Apple is already fighting a U.S. court order to help the FBI hack the iPhone passcode system on a work phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the culprits of a December terror attack that killed 14 and injured 22 in San Bernardino, California.

Should the Department successfully force Apple to cooperate on the twelve non-terror cases, privacy activists will likely interpret it as a sign that Washington aims to go beyond the limited scope of the San Bernardino investigation, the WSJ said.

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