Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Apple Federal Court Order Sheds Light on Digital Privacy

Federal Government, Apple Clash Over Cell Phone Data Access and Security

FBI San Bernardino terrorism investigation runs up against privacy rights

Following a deadly terrorist attack that killed 14 Americans in late 2015, a federal judge has ordered Apple to create software to override digital security functions on the iPhones of the alleged perpetrators, setting off a huge controversy around digital security, privacy rights, and the government’s reach in criminal investigations.

In response to the court order earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the government’s position was dangerous, according to an article in Ars Technica.

The Atlantic notes that Older iPhones, like that of the San Bernardino shooters, require a four-digit passcode and entering an incorrect code 10 times causes all the phone’s information to be lost. ArsTechnica’s piece indicates that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Defense believe there is “crucial evidence” on the smartphones in question.

As The Atlantic goes on to note, Apple decided some years ago to not only encrypt its phones internally at an incredibly high level, but to eliminate the company’s knowledge and ownership of any phone’s key. The current court order would require the company to create a “backdoor” software program to eliminate the wipe of info after too many attempts at the passcode.

Thus far, Apple has complied with all requests for information during the investigation, reports SFGate.

Privacy Faces its Greatest Challenge in the Digital Age

Lieff Cabraser is committed to ensuring that the fundamental right to privacy is respected and endures even as technology evolves and society changes. We are aware that striking the proper balance between individual rights and our collective safety is paramount, which is why cases like this one are so important.

Much of daily life is carried on through interaction in the digital world and our attorneys possess extensive experience and the requisite technological background to successfully assert and litigate all manner of privacy claims. We constantly communicate digitally with text, video, photos, and audio. We carry on our personal relationships digitally through online social media and email. We also do our banking digitally. We pay for things at the store digitally. And the digital world never blinks. There is now a digital record of virtually every interaction you have with the world beyond your home, and even sometimes what is going on inside your home.

If you have experienced identity theft or other action you think may be related to a data breach, we welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your potential case. The information you provide will also help safeguard the rights and data of users everywhere. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your case.