Alright, we all know about how the FBI tangled with Apple to attain iPhone info from some very bad terrorist people. All sounds like it makes sense, right? Sure, it does with groans from the Fourth Amendment supporters. I can hear them now, “No invasion of privacy should be allowed!” I get that and agree iPhones and other digital devices should not be intruded upon. But, what if the perp is a potential terrorist or some other evil person? Where do we draw the line? And should the FBI be allowed to play G-d here?
Now, we escalate the matter and have a case of precedent where an LA courtroom allowed a search warrant to include a fingerprint to be touched to unlock an iPhone. In this case, the girlfriend was forced to access her iPhone to get to her Armenian gang member boyfriend. So, yes, this dude was a bad guy and took innocent lives. And this case will serve for future prosecutors, courts, and judges to have such a golden ticket when necessary.
I’m all for a good cause, but now I’m torn with what the Fourth Amendment is for. Not only does the Fourth Amendment serve for protecting your privacy, but it also ensures you will be provided a reasonable search. As such, warrants will be served on probable cause and be reasonable when done so. Was this really what the Apple creators and iPhone service folks expected to deal with?
What happens in a case where probable cause is marred. Probable cause just means the search must be performed based on reasonable grounds. For example, if the investigator believes a suspect killed someone else, he can get a warrant to search this person. But, what if there are multiple suspects? Should all suspects be obliged to hand over their phones and devices? What if other crimes or wrongdoings appear from these devices? Will these suspects be on the hook for these too?
My biggest concern is the large scope of responsibility we are handing over to the government and private investigators among others. If they get it wrong, they are wrongly accessing iPhones and other devices. I’m not even sold we should go down this road of accessing smartphones at all, but if we do, we certainly need serious checks and balances to ensure such access is 1000% validated.