An anonymous reader writes: The FBI has been citing a 1789 law, the All Writs Act, to compel Apple to assist the authorities in unlocking the iPhone 5c belonging to San Bernardino killer, Syed Farook. The law allows for judges to issue orders for people or companies to do something despite Congress not passing laws to cover specific instances. According to the Civil Liberties Union, the U.S. government has cited the All Writs Act in 63 cases since 2008 to compel Apple or Google to assist in accessing data stored on an iPhone or Android device. Most of the orders involved Apple. "To the extent we know about the underlying facts, these cases predominantly arise out of investigations into drug crimes," said Eliza Sweren-Becker, an ACLU attorney.