News and Articles

Apple vs. FBI – Technology and the New Legal Frontier

Yogi Patel - Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Mobile devices in general have arguably taken over as the main portal through which significant portions of people in our society communicate. And with the advancement of technology, the mobile device is now and will continue to become, the main portal through which we engage in every day transactions. We can now use our phones to engage in banking, ordering groceries, booking vacations, researching novel questions, storing our personal information and to do just about anything else we want. The amount of data that can be derived from our mobile devices can reveal just about every aspect of our day-to-day lives. From the websites we visit, to the phrases we search. Our phones, for better or worse, can probably reveal more about us than we could if we tried to provide our own narrative. Think about how naked and vulnerable you felt the last time you left home without your phone. For most of us, it has become a necessity. We truly cannot imagine life without our mobile devices – and this is not going to change anytime soon. We will undoubtedly continue to use our mobile devices to share even more personal information about ourselves. And with this in mind, consider the dispute between Apple and the FBI –which is ultimately between privacy and safety.

The iPhone is known for its nearly impenetrable security features and thus, is one of the many reasons that Apple’s products are considered superior to others in the market place. The latest challenge to privacy comes in the form of the unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The FBI has been unable to unlock and access the device and is now relying on the courts to compel Apple to do so. Apple is not complying because it fears future implications of the government’s ability to access their devices.

While the FBI has only requested that Apple help the government access the gunmen’s iPhone, the broader implications of the request are the true cause of conflict and concern here. The government is essentially asking for Apple to create an encryption system that would provide them access to any Apple device after securing a warrant. The Government’s position appears to be carefully considered and narrowly tailored. Many experts consider this case as the “perfect case” for litigating the issue of privacy concerns against the governments need to access incriminating information in the evolving world where technology controls access. Since the case involves terrorism, the government’s interest in encroaching on privacy concerns is less likely to cause a public outcry and provides sufficient justification for the court’s to reach a decision allowing it to gain access to an encrypted system.

Besides the privacy vs. security considerations implicated here, this case also raises the issue of how far the government can go in requiring a business to perform functions that have no financial value to the Company. In this case, the FBI wants Apple to develop a new version of the iPhone operating system, whereby the new versions would allow the government to bypass the security features on its product. The sole purpose of this software would be to allow the government to have access to the data on such phones when appropriate. Apple’s shareholders do not stand to gain financially by cooperating with the government. In fact, developing this software would arguably weaken Apple’s overall security system and potentially have a negative impact on its market-share and subsequently the value of the Company to its shareholders.

The implication of this dispute also extends to how other privileges could be potentially compromised. Given that smartphones such as the iPhone store so much personal data, it is important to note that if the government were given such access, they would ultimately be able to access emails, photos, and text messages. This access would present challenges to right of privacy amongst privileged relationships. For example, confidential communications between attorney and client, marital communications amongst spouses and patient-psychotherapist relationship may be easily penetrable.

Other technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Dell understand the implications of this dispute as well. Most have pledged support for Apple and are expected to submit Amicus positions in the pending litigation. These companies also fear that the government will make similar requests thus compromising their security and intellectual property.


This Article was co-authored by Asima Chaudhary, an intern at Lloyd Patel LLP and a second year law student at the City University of New York Law School.


Recent Posts


Public-Sector Union Fees Facebook Privacy and Litigation Fair Chance Act Business Worker's Rights #meToo Real Estate Law Trade Secrets Act Paycheck Protection Program Hairstyle Discrimination Start-up Ventures Trademark licensing Right to Unionize NYC Human Right's Law's Intellectual Property Negotiating Corporate Law NQSO Executive Severance graduate students U.S. Department of Labor entrepreneur commuter benefits Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Executive Order Minimum wage Nobel Prize Overtime Exemptions Firm Announcements Web Domains LinkedIn Westchester Safe and Sick Time Laws Credit Checks New Address Families First Coronavirus Response Act Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council ACA Prenup federal Department of Labor Landlord-Tenant Law Employee Manuals and Policies New York City Human Rights Law Tax-Deferred Savings Newsletter Interns as Employees Plastic Bag Ban Emergency Economic Injury Grants Domain Name Fair Workweek Law Sexual Harassment Housing Law Economic Injury Disaster Loans I-9 Verification Employment Law Credit Employment Offer/Agreement Federal Contractors Apple vs. FBI Unions Sexual Harassment policy Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. Human Rights Law $15 Minimum Wage Transgender protections Alter-Ego Doctrine Federal Joint Employer Rule Unionization National Labor Relations Board Workplace Requirements Ban the Box Non-Qualified Stock Options Freelance Isn't Free Internet Law Pregnancy COVID-19 Independent Contractor Mandatory Class Action Waivers Interview Series NY payroll law Federal Small Business Assistance employment discrimination lawsuits Technology Wage Theft Protection Act Joint-Employer Relationship Attracting Investment Employment Contracts Security NLRB Webinar Employer Mandate New York Earned Sick Time Act Employee Salary Histories NYC Salary History Law Immigration Status Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Health Care Overtime Rules Interns Nanny Audit Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures Affordable Care Act Fair Work Week Legislation Westchester County implementing new leave laws Postnup Browning-Ferris Case Selling Business Lactation Law drug testing Department of Labor Wage and Hour Law Privacy Federal Overtime Law Executive Negotiation Arbitration Agreements Illegal rentals EEOC Filing Requirement NYC Sexual harrassment law Household Employees Credit History Sexual Harassment and Discrimination In The Workplace AirBnB Trademark Law Marijuana Testing NYC Sick Leave Law Trade Secrets Divorce workplace discrimination Business Law marijuana usage sexual harassment training Fair Play to Pay Act Paid Family Leave Criminal Record stocks Fair Labor Standards Act Out-of-State LLC Owners Salary History Inquiries Payroll Scams Womens Rights National Labor Relations Act


EDIT - blog-container - This controls the styles for the headings

EDIT - BlogTagCloud - Font style


  • EDIT  - post-body - Font style

EDIT - side-panel - This is the colour of the sidebar headings

Snap | BC Module - Blog - Blog Description

Snap | BC Module - Blog - Blog Title

EDIT - Snap | BC Module - Blog - Date - This is the date box style

EDIT - Snap | BC Module - Blog - Post Content - Font style

EDIT - Snap | BC Module - Blog - Post Title - Heading style

EDIT  - Snap | BC Module - Blog - Sidebar Content - Font style

EDIT - Snap | BC Module - Blog - Sidebar Title - Heading style

latest blog title snap text


Disclaimer: Nothing on this website is or should be construed as legal advice.
An attorney-client relationship does not exist with our firm unless a signed
retainer agreement is executed, and we do not offer legal advice through
this site or any of the content located on it. For legal advice for your
particular circumstances, please contact us directly.