Eric Tucker?and Tami Abdollah

WASHINGTON: Apple Inc. on Thursday asked a federal magistrate to reverse her order that the company help the FBI hack into a locked iPhone, accusing the federal government of seeking “dangerous power” through the courts and of trampling on its constitutional rights.

The filing represents Apple’s first official response since the judge’s order last week and builds upon arguments voiced by the company’s chief executive and supporters. It marks the latest salvo in a court fight that could create meaningful precedent and establish new legal boundaries in the policy battle between national security and digital privacy — a clash FBI Director James Comey says is the “hardest question I’ve seen in government.”

Apple said, “No court has ever authorized what the government now seeks, no law supports such unlimited and sweeping use of the judicial process, and the Constitution forbids it.”

The Justice Department is proposing a “boundless interpretation” of the law that, if left unchecked, could bring disastrous repercussions, the company warned in a memo submitted to Magistrate Sheri Pym that aggressively challenges policy justifications put forward by the Obama administration in the last several days.

“The government says: ‘Just this once’ and ‘Just this phone.’ But the government knows those statements are not true,” lawyers for Apple wrote.

If Apple were required to build the software the FBI wants, the lawyers argued, “criminals, terrorists and hackers will no doubt view the code as a major prize and can be expected to go to considerable lengths to steal it.”

Justice Department lawyers were reviewing Apple’s brief and will respond, said spokeswoman Melanie Newman.

A hearing is scheduled for next month. A judge in Brooklyn has yet to rule in a similar but separate case.

In defending the government’s demand, Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that the dispute will ‘‘require negotiation and conversation.”

“I do think the larger question is not going to be answered in the courts, and it shouldn’t be. Because it’s really about who do we want to be as a country, and how do we want to govern ourselves,” Comey said.

A week ago, a federal magistrate in California directed Apple to help the FBI gain access to a phone used by one of the assailants in the December shootings in San Bernardino, Calif. The Justice Department wants Apple to create specialized software for the iPhone that would bypass some security features.