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Can Private Companies Legally Break Into Your iPhone?


Many people are wondering why the Apple iPhone case is such a big deal. From the beginning the government was saying they needed access to just the one phone, but is that the case?

Watch the video to learn why this might be a slippery slope. Devens Hamlen has first-hand experience with phone encryption cases, one of his cases set the precedent in the state of Maine.

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Below is a transcript of the video:

Can Private Companies Legally Break Into Your iPhone?

The iPhone case is a very interesting case right now that’s been the news where it would be first time that the government has asked a private company to produce basically software to be able to break into people phones in order to see what’s inside them. This will open up a can worms to have lots of different people phones being able to be broken into. And interestingly I heard on the news that, and I heard the testimony of the FBI director, for a long the argument was it’s just this one phone, this is the only phone we need information on.

It turns out that under cross examination by one of the senators at the hearings he admitted that while there is a possibility that we could use it in other cases. For instance the district attorney in New York City says he has a 100 smartphones that he wants access to. First the government wanted to make it seem like this was an isolated incident, this is the only phone we need information on or to get the access to.

So an interestingly this has is very similar in a lot of ways to the case that justice judge Kelly in our case denied the state’s request to gain access to my clients phone by him putting in the password. Somewhat different than the San Bernardino case because those people obviously dead and they can’t give access to the phone. But it’s the same concept in that Apple has created a very strong encryption on their phones that is very hard for the government to get information on or to break into.

And one way you can do it is for asking the individual to put in their passcode into the phone which is what happened in my case. The other is for Apple to provide this software to be able to break into the phone. I think that both of them are problematic and in my case the argument was that by producing the information to get into the phone is essentially of his 5th amendment rights, his right to remain silent and to not give the government information. The court agreed and said that the state wasn’t able to access or require my client to put in his passcode into the phone.

It’s a slippery slope when you start asking the government, or government starts asking a private company to be able to break into private citizens’ phones.

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