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NYC judge unlocks door to Apple privacy win

Apple supporters protest outside the F.B.I. headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 23, 2016.
Matt Cuddy | CNBC
Apple supporters protest outside the F.B.I. headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 23, 2016.

A New York judge may have unlocked the door to an Apple privacy win.

The federal magistrate in Brooklyn on Monday said the FBI can't force the technology giant to bypass an iPhone's security. The ruling confirms that a 225-year-old law doesn't apply and that the hack would unduly burden Apple. It's a roadmap for the better-known case unfolding in a California court and in Congress.

The two prosecutions involve very different crimes: drug dealing in New York, and the killing of 14 people in San Bernardino, California. But both raise the hot-button issue of whether U.S. enforcers can require Chief Executive Tim Cook's company to produce software that would help them extract potential evidence form a smartphone.