As Ars Technica advances, an American court in Seattle ruled against the FBI in a case where the entity took a picture of a smartphone screen without a warrant. The FBI took the smartphone and took a picture of the lock screen, in a specific case.

The smartphone in question belongs to Joseph Sam, who was charged with the crimes of theft and violence. His equipment, a Motorola, was switched on by one of the police officers when he was arrested. In addition, the FBI removed the equipment from the testing room and turned it on, taking a picture of the unlock screen.


Joseph Sam’s nickname was on the unlock screen, proving to be important evidence during the process. Sam’s lawyer contested it, indicating that the evidence was obtained illegally, not respecting his client’s privacy.

The court ruled that the evidence is valid and that the police may need to search the criminal, including his cell phone. However, the court condemned the FBI’s actions, where any subsequent interference with the evidence needs to be justified with a warrant.

Case is reminiscent of a conflict between the FBI and Apple

The FBI has clashed with Apple on several occasions where the entity has asked Apple to unlock the iPhones of criminals to help with investigations. Apple, being a neutral manufacturer, has refused to assist the FBI in this way, indicating that it would be a breach of customer privacy.

In fact, the FBI asked Apple to create a “master key” to unlock all iPhones, something that Apple promptly refused to do.

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