By Julia Angwin
A legal battle is brewing between technology companies and the U.S. government over whether law-enforcement agents have the right to obtain passwords to crack into smartphones of suspects.
Google Inc. earlier this year refused to unlock an alleged pimp's cellphone powered by its Android software — even after the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a search warrant.
Google's unusual and controversial challenge to the search warrant indicates how murky the legal standards are for new technologies such as smartphones. Under the Supreme Court's so-called Third Party Doctrine, government agents can often obtain data stored with third parties without obtaining a search warrant.
But that standard doesn't take into account data as sensitive as a password — which can be the key to unlocking a larger trove of information such as emails, texts, calls and address lists.
Source: The Wall Street Journal