Sacramento-area investigators want iPhones unlocked

"“Part of the conversation is whether the FBI has sufficient training and access to technology (to do its job). Asking the private sector to help is not the most efficient fulfillment of its law enforcement duties,” said Andrea Matwyshyn, a scholar at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society and a professor at Boston’s Northeastern University School of Law.

Forcing Apple to write a software program that defeats its hallmark security measures could violate several constitutional provisions, including the Fifth Amendment’s so-called Takings Clause, which says the government can’t take private property without just compensation, she said.

Matwyshyn said the court’s order could lead to a “slippery slope” of forcing technology companies to help law enforcement break into people’s private electronic information, the law professor said.

“What we’ve learned from the way the case has progressed between the Department of Justice and Apple is that it will clearly form a precedent, in one way or another, as to whether other law enforcement agencies will be able to request similar assistance from technology companies,” Matwyshyn said.

“It could open a Pandora’s box of access to consumers’ lives ... (and turn a variety of electronic products) into data-gathering devices for law enforcement.”"