Arizona county attorney picks politics over privacy

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iPhone mobile encryption touch id
Sorry, Maricopa County Attorney's office. No more iPhones for you.
Photo: Olly Browning/Pixabay

Saying that Apple’s refusal to help an FBI investigation puts the company “on the side of terrorists,” Maricopa County, Arizona’s county attorney’s office will no longer issue iPhones for official use.

Prosecutor Bill Montgomery issued the public statement today after privately communicating the new policy to “applicable staff” on Sunday.

“Apple’s refusal to cooperate with a legitimate law enforcement investigation to unlock a phone used by terrorists puts Apple on the side of terrorists instead of on the side of public safety,” Montgomery said in the press release. “Positioning their refusal to cooperate as having anything to do with privacy interests is a corporate PR stunt and ignores the 4th Amendment protections afforded by our Constitution.”

The statement says that the office will no longer offer Apple-made smartphones as options for replacements or upgrades, so we assume that any dirty, terrorist-loving devices that employees are currently using can stay.

Montgomery is echoing the sentiments of the U.S. Department of Justice, which claimed last week that Apple’s resistance to creating software that will allow investigators to access data on San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone is a publicity stunt.

We aren’t sure we get the prosecutor’s reference to the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, however. That bill states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So we’re not clear on whose protections Montgomery is defending. He could be arguing that the vague All Writs Act of 1781, which says basically that courts can make requests, grants the FBI a legal warrant. But the 4th Amendment doesn’t say anything about protecting the government from the people it wants to investigate; it’s actually the other way around.

Regardless, if you want a free, government-issued iPhone, you should maybe apply somewhere other than the Maricopa County Attorney’s office.

“I don’t expect my action to affect Apple’s stock price,” Montgomery said. “But I cannot in good conscience support doing business with an organization that chooses to thwart an active investigation into a terrorist attack that claimed the lives of fourteen fellow citizens. If Apple wants to be the official smartphone of terrorists and criminals, there will be a consequence.”

Via: Ars Technica

  • Diego

    Funny, The US government has helped terrorists since the 1980s?
    But of course, your government won’t tell you this.
    Obama, tell me, how did you kill binladen?

  • Jose Figueredo

    What can you expect from a Maricopa county prosecutor, the home of Sheriff Arpaio another “law abiding” government official, stand your ground Apple, and thank you for defending our civil liberties

  • TeeJay2000

    ‘What a maroon…’ Bugs Bunny

  • DrMuggg

    What an idiot he must be.

    He’s againt the privacy of hundreds of millions of people.

    If this FBI-claim goes all the way through I centainly hope that all these “law abiding politicians” are the first to get their
    phones hacked and every bit of thilthy information is spread out wide open. Anything from Dirty funding to Dirty Pictures.

  • Bill Maslen

    So… they’re going to give new employees Samsung phones? Which are, of course, as secure as a Swiss cheese. That should make the government happy! Oh, which government? All of them, of course – plus your global criminal hackers, teenage wannabe hackers and every other data-gathering entity on the planet. But that’s okay, because the FBI can get in there too, so we all KNOW we’re being protected. Erm…

  • JackThomasAZ

    So Montgomery would rather his staff use phones that are less secure. That makes a lot of sense. Idiot.

    • aardman

      I think that’s the whole point. Gotta be able to monitor his employees.

  • Chris

    Evan should stick to writing stories on subjects that he can understand.