A resident of Santos, on the coast of São Paulo, obtained in court the right to have access to the files saved in the cloud of the iPhone X, Space Gray model, belonging to his son, who died in a traffic accident. The action was filed because the applicant does not know the smartphone unlock password set by the deceased and depended on Apple, the device’s manufacturer, to release navigation to the device’s data.
Represented by Marcelo Cruz Advogados Associados, the father justified his request to the fact that the device contains “numerous family records with immeasurable sentimental value, such as photos, videos, conversations, etc.”. The applicant’s son was 20 years old and died on April 25, 2021. The bicycle that the young man was pedaling along Avenida Washington Luiz, one of the main avenues in Santos, was hit in the rear by a car.
Judge Guilherme de Macedo Soares, from the 2nd Court of the Special Civil Court of Santos, upheld the action and ordered the issuance of a court order authorizing the company to transfer the Apple ID account used by the deceased to his father. According to the sentence, the death of the young man was proven, and his family’s interest in accessing data, such as photos and other files of sentimental value, was evident.
“The issuance of a court order to authorize the company to transfer the Apple ID is the viable solution. The measure fully meets the young man’s family’s wishes. early and tragically by a traffic accident”, comments Marcelo Cruz. He acted in the case with lawyers Octavio Rolim and Marcio Harrison.
The defendant stated in her answer that the unlocking request formulated in the initial petition is facing a technical impossibility, because the passwords for accessing the devices manufactured by the company are registered solely and exclusively by the users. Also according to the company, the codes are end-to-end encrypted because Apple values customer privacy and security.
In this way, locking and unlocking an iOS device and accessing the account are only under the control of the user, not the defendant or any third party. The security features of the device and iCloud (cloud storage system developed by Apple) are designed in such a way that the company is not aware of and access to consumer passwords.
However, the company noted that, in the event of the owner’s death, it is possible – “and legitimate” – the heir to wish to delete the Apple ID (login account of the deceased user) or request the transfer of title. The second hypothesis grants access to the personal data and private information of the deceased and third parties that may be stored in the cloud associated with said account.
Considering that the transfer may give access to personal and private data of third parties, the company only performs it upon presentation of a court order authorizing the transfer of the deceased’s Apple ID to the applicant. The requirement is provided for in the Marco Civil da Internet (Law 12.905/2014). It provides for the inviolability and secrecy of the flow of communications over the Internet, except by court order, as provided by law.