Even as a federal judge ordered Apple to help Boston FBI unlock a gangbanger’s cellphone, the tech giant is fighting back in new court filings against a similar order in California by invoking the words of one of Boston’s most famous residents.

“Almost 90 years ago, Justice Louis Brandeis, reflecting on the ‘progress of science’ beyond wiretapping, famously warned that ‘[t]he greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding,'” Apple wrote in the documents filed yesterday. “In this case, the government’s motivations are understandable, but its methods for achieving its objectives are contrary to the rule of law, the democratic process, and the rights of the American people.”

The FBI in California wants Apple to unlock a phone used by terrorists who massacred county workers in San Bernardino, Calif., in December. A hearing is set for March 22 in U.S. District Court in California.

In Boston, the FBI wants Apple to unlock an iPhone used by Desmond Crawford, who agents said is a member of the Columbia Point Dawgs charged with violence in connection with racketeering.

Bay State cops and prosecutors also are closely watching the San Bernardino case, as they say hundreds of encrypted cellphones they’ve seized could crack homicides, sex assaults and other cases if the FBI wins its legal battle.

Apple said the only way to unlock the California phone would be to write a special program for the government, breaking a system that now protects iPhone users. Apple said forcing it to do that would violate programmers and the company’s right to free speech.

“Apple instead objects to the government’s attempted conscription of it to send individual citizens into a super-secure facility to write code for several weeks on behalf of the government on a mission that is contrary to the values of the company and these individuals. Such conscription is fundamentally ‘offensive to’ Apple’s core principles, and would ‘pose a severe threat to the autonomy’ of Apple and its engineers.”

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(c)2016 the Boston Herald

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