Arizona county attorney picks politics over privacy


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


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.