Widow Denied Access To Husband's Phone

Posted at 5:03 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 19:33:41-05

A Middle Tennessee woman has tried to access photos on her late husband's phone, but the legal battle over who can have access to a person's I-Phone may keep her from them.

It was one of the biggest stories in the country: Apple refusing a judge's order to help the FBI gain access to a terrorist's cell phone data.

The court order was part of the investigation into the San Bernardino, California shooting. The case was on course for the U.S. Supreme court, and whatever happens could effect everyone.

Apple versus the FBI is one thing, but what about Apple versus you or I?

NewsChannel 5's Nick Beres discussed the issue on Facebook Thursday.

Check out NC5_NickBeres Facebook Live video, where he talked about the Apple/FBI feud, and a local case that could show...

Posted by on Thursday, February 18, 2016

A local widow desperately wanted access to her deceased husband's cell phone for sentimental photos and other things. Like the FBI she's been told to get a court order, but just like the FBI she may be out of luck.

"This is at our wedding. One of our first kisses together. It was a great day," said Linda Randolph as she held the photographs of her wedding and the memories of her late husband Stephen. He died last week.

"It just came all of a sudden. We had a diagnosis of acute lymphoplastic leukemia," said Randolph.

In the days after her husband's death, Randolph remembered several sentimental photos remained on his I-Phone.

"He's gone, and he's not coming back and these pictures are so important to me," she said.

Randolph went to download the images, but then realized she and her husband never exchanged passwords. She was locked out of the phone.

Randolph figured Apple could help, but was stunned to be told she'd need a court order. Then a few days later, the national story broke:  Apple declined a judge's order to provide the passcode to an accused terrorist's cell phone for the FBI.

"My first thought was if they won't listen to the FBI to help solve a crime why would a court order from a widow in Tennessee mean anything to them," said Randolph.

Her situation is not identical to the FBI's case. She requires a different passcode, but Apple has still asked for a court order.

She doesn't have the money to hire an attorney to get one, and wondered if Apple would even comply if she did.

"If they're not going to listen to the FBI, they won't listen to a widow who only wants access to pictures," said Randolph.

One lesson from all this, more people will be sharing their passcodes with loved ones in the event something should happen.

Why has Apple resisted the judge's order in the FBI case? Company officials argue that creating a "backdoor" program to gain access to the passcodes on I-Phones creates a security risk for their customers.

Debate over the case involving the FBI could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.