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DOJ 'Got a Little Carried Away,' Apple's Lawyer Says

Apple counsel Ted Boutrous told CNBC on Monday that federal lawyers 'got a little carried away' with their rhetoric in the latest court filing.
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Apple counsel Ted Boutrous told CNBC on Monday that Justice Department lawyers "got a little carried away" with their rhetoric in the latest court filing in the tech giant's legal battle against the government over encryption.

"There is a disconnect between the rhetoric in the Justice brief and what we have heard from [FBI Director James] Comey and President Obama," Boutrous said. "The lawyers who filed the brief got a little bit carried away with their rhetoric," he told CNBC.

Read More: DOJ Calls Apple Arguments 'Corrosive' in San Bernardino iPhone Case

Boutrous said Apple will shortly respond to the government on why the Justice Department arguments are wrong and "would have terrible consequences" for national security and citizens. Ultimately, though, Apple does not believe the right forum for this battle is the courts.

"This is a policy issue ... the American people have to resolve," Boutrous said. "It's for Congress to resolve," he added.

Last week, Apple senior vice president and general counsel Bruce Sewell said in a call with reporters that the DOJ has become "so desperate" that it has "thrown all decorum to the wind." He added, "The tone of the brief reads like an indictment."

Boutrous said it would be a mistake to think the issue is just about Apple vs. the government. He said there is a cavalcade of tech companies and civil liberties groups and a family member of a victim of San Bernardino who filed court briefs supporting Apple's position.

Read More: FBI Wants to 'Turn Back the Clock' on iPhone, Apple Software Chief Says

"This case ... will set a precedent. ... It will be used around the country and world to unlock phones," Boutrous said. "It's a big issue that goes far beyond Apple and affects all tech companies and all citizens who use these devices, and that will be front and center when we argue in court," the Apple lawyer said.