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US Judge Orders Apple to Access iPhone in New Case

A 3-D-printed Apple logo is seen in front of a displayed cyber code in this illustration taken March 22, 2016.

A U.S. judge has ordered Apple to help law enforcement officials unlock an iPhone in a gang case —another battle between the government and the technology giant over encryption.

A Boston magistrate judge said Apple should provide reasonable assistance to the government, which could include extracting data from the device, copying it to a hard drive, and then giving the drive to law enforcement officers.

The court ruling was made February 1, but was unsealed to the public Friday.

The case is similar to one linked to the San Bernardino, California, mass shooting in December in which 14 people were killed. The government has dropped its legal action against Apple in that case, after announcing that it figured out how to unlock the iPhone used by the gunmen in the mass shooting. Government officials said, however, that the encryption workaround they discovered only works for one particular phone and operating system.

Also Friday, the Justice Department said it would continue trying to force Apple to crack the encryption of another iPhone, this one linked to a New York drug case. Apple lawyers said they were disappointed by the government's decision.

The government has sought to require Apple to write new software programs to help investigators get data from iPhones without knowing the phones' passwords.

Apple has been fighting the orders in court, arguing that the government's demands violate the company's constitutional rights, harm the Apple brand and threaten the trust of its customers to protect their privacy.