The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it would take legal actions against Apple, accusing the tech giant of conspiring to impede the investigation of a massive cyber attack that targeted thousands of people.
In a statement, the DOJ’s cyber crime unit said it is filing a complaint with the U.N. Security Council accusing Apple of engaging in a “serious violation of international law and standards of conduct” by failing to cooperate with U.K. officials in the investigation.
In an affidavit filed with the complaint, the U,S.
Justice Department said Apple was complicit in the breach of private data of people in the United Kingdom, including victims of the cyberattack.
“The breach of data that resulted in the mass publication of sensitive personal and financial information of thousands of individuals was an unprovoked attack by a foreign actor that was directed at U.k. citizens,” the DOJ said.
“We allege that Apple violated its obligations under international law to prevent and combat cybersecurity threats by failing, in a timely fashion, to cooperate fully with the United States Government in its investigation.”
The U. S. has accused Apple of facilitating the hacking of the iCloud database that stores information on millions of Americans, including some U.s. military personnel.
The government also accused Apple, which sells iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch software, of failing to act in a manner that would protect customers’ information.
The DOJ said it would be using a “dual investigative mandate” that would focus on the criminal hacking of Apple devices and other cyber crimes.
“This is the first time the U (Department of Justice) has taken such an aggressive action in relation to an alleged cybersecurity breach,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, in the statement.
“The scope and breadth of the allegations against Apple are unprecedented in the history of the Justice Department.”
Apple has denied the allegations, saying that it is cooperating fully with authorities.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The department said it will seek a criminal conviction against Apple and will use “significant financial and technical resources” to pursue it.
The move is the latest blow to Apple, whose stock is trading at around $96.90 on Wednesday, down nearly 10 percent in a year.
Apple is in talks to sell its chips business to Chinese chipmaker TSMC, and a possible deal to sell the company’s home appliances business to the Chinese firm, China National Chemical.