FDA Approves First Cancer-Spotting DNA Test

By: Rachel Theodorou

On March 6 2018, the FDA approved, with warnings, the first ever breast cancer-spotting DNA test. This test, produced and distributed by California-based company 23andMe, searched for three DNA mutations that are found most commonly in people of Jewish descent. The test “analyzes DNA from a self-collected saliva sample, and the report describes if a woman is at increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, and if a man is at increased risk of developing breast cancer or may be at increased risk of developing prostate cancer.”

While this may seem like a step in the right direction, the test is able to detect only three out of over 1,000 breast cancer-causing genes, none of which are the most common BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations. Additionally, consumers do not need a doctor’s prescription to obtain and use the test. The National Society of Genetic Counselors stated, “[p]eople shouldn’t take the test without talking to an expert…consumers who test positive for these mutations need to be retested in a clinical setting under the supervision of a medical professional before moving forward with any medical decisions.” The group also opined that anyone who is interested in finding out more about their individualized risk should consult with a genetic counselor.


Maggie Fox, FDA OKs 23andMe home breast cancer DNA test, with warning, NBC News (last visited Mar. 8, 2018), https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/fda-oks-23andme-home-breast-cancer-dna-test-warning-n854206.

The Innocence Project and DNA Exoneration

By: Kristian Walker

Steven Barnes was only 19 years old when the body of his Whitesboro High School classmate, Kimberly Simon, was found raped and murdered on the side of the road in 1985. Witness testimony revealed that a man matching Barnes’ description was seen near the scene that night, as well as a truck similar to his. However, other witnesses put Barnes at a local bowling alley during the night in question. After twelve hours of questioning a couple of days after the incident, Barnes was released. It was not until two years later that he was arrested and charged with rape, sodomy, and murder.

The conviction of Barnes was based on inconclusive evidence and three forms of unvalidated forensic science. Serology results and DNA testing were found to be inconclusive, meaning they could not definitively be matched to Barnes. The first form of forensic science used was a photographic overlay of the jeans the victim was wearing and an imprint found in Barnes’ truck. This test found only that the patterns were similar. Second, hair analysis was conducted on two hairs found in Barnes’ truck. The hairs were found to be only similar to that of the victim while dissimilar to that of Barnes. There were also no findings of hair on the victim that were similar to Barnes. Finally, tests were conducted on dirt taken from Barnes’ truck and the soil at the crime scene two years later and they were found to have similar characteristics. None of these three forms of forensic science have been validated and their use in court was strictly prejudicial rather than probative. Further, a prison informant testified that Barnes confessed to the murder to him. However, the informant was not located in a cell near Barnes’ and he could not recall when or where the conversation took place. Barnes was convicted of first degree rape, first degree sodomy and three counts of second degree murder. His sentence was 25 years to life.

Barnes’ mother was shocked to hear the guilty verdict. She had raised a well-rounded and happy son. Barnes had no criminal history or history of bad behavior; he played football, did well in school, and had a lot of friends. He was “a clean cut kid” and she knew he was innocent.

It was not until 2007 that the Innocence Project was able to reopen his case. At this point in time, almost two decades later, DNA testing and forensic science had seen many advancements. The new advanced DNA testing revealed conclusive results that the bodily fluids found on the victim did not match Barnes. Barnes was freed in 2008 and officially exonerated in 2009 at the age of 43. Throughout his two decades in prison, Barnes never gave up hope and neither did his family. His mother visited him regularly and worked tirelessly to prove his innocence. Freed right before Thanksgiving, Barnes was excited to finally celebrate a holiday with his family and have a home-cooked meal. Further, he was intrigued by cellphones, social media, and the internet. Barnes stated that he is not angered by the twenty years of lost time, rather, he is excited to start his life.

Since his wrongful conviction, Barnes sued the state and won a $3.5 million dollar settlement. He also has his own snow plowing business and works with the Oneida County youth. In his spare time, he tries to travel as much as possible. His goal is to aid in improving the justice system to ensure that wrongful convictions do not continue to happen. For this reason, he works closely with the Innocence Project in an attempt to pay it forward. To this day, the actual perpetrator has not been found.


Sylvia Barnes, Mother of Exoneree Steven Barnes, Speaks (Dec. 18, 2016), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmPkest9yZI

After 20 years in prison, Marcy man walks free (Nov. 25, 2008), http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2008/11/da_dna_clears_upstate_ny_man_j.html.

Steven Barnes: Life After A Wrongful Conviction (May 26, 2016), http://www.wgrz.com/video/news/steven-barnes-life-after-a-wrongful-conviction/71-2202659

Group, S.B. (n.d.), Judge overturns man’s rape and murder convictions, (retrieved February 20, 2018) http://cnycentral.com/news/local/judge-overturns-mans-rape-and-murder-convictions

Press, T.A., UPDATE: Wrongly jailed NY man formally cleared of murder (Jan. 9, 2009), http://auburnpub.com/news/update-wrongly-jailed-ny-man-formally-cleared-of-murder/article_ca946c2b-d152-595e-b0c4-0b3b6c2ac248.html

Amazon’s New Patented Wristbands Can Track Warehouse Worker’s Productivity

By Samantha Cirillo

New privacy and workplace concerns arise as Amazon gains two patents on wristband technology designed to monitor and steer warehouse worker’s everyday movements. The patent application was filed in 2016 and Amazon received both patents in early 2018. The wristband technology allows the company to trace where the workers are in relation to inventory bins and uses vibrations to steer the employees towards the correct bin. Amazon states that the purpose of the new technology would be to save time while workers are filling orders.

However, the new technology patents are raising several concerns for workers in the industry. First, employees are concerned for their privacy. The wristbands would track activity outside of the employee’s actual work,  lunches, breaks, or any worker inactivity. Another voiced concern is how the wristbands could affect workplace conditions, including setting unrealistic daily goals. One employee stated that the bands are only a placeholder until the company can replace workers with robots. Another stated that the bands are intended to allow the company to control humans like they robots.

There is no news on the creation or implementation of the patented technology, however, some say it is only a matter of time.


Ceylan Yeginsu, If Workers Slack Off, the Wristband Will Know. (And Amazon has a Patent for It.), New York Times (Feb. 1, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/01/technology/amazon-wristband-tracking-privacy.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Ftechnology&action=click&contentCollection=technology&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

Alan Boyle, Amazon Wins a pair of Patents for Wireless Wristbands that Track Warehouse Workers, GeekWire (Jan. 30, 2018), https://www.geekwire.com/2018/amazon-wins-patents-wireless-wristbands-track-warehouse-workers/

 Jessica Scladebeck, Amazon Patents Wristbands Designed to Steer Employee’s Movements, Daily News (Feb. 1, 2018), http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/amazon-patents-wristbands-designed-steer-employees-movements-article-1.3792895

Web Site Accessibility for Individuals with Disabilities

By: Laura O’Brien

Applying for college, or graduate school, is a stressful time for any individual. For individuals with disabilities it can be an even burdensome when university websites are not accessible to them. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal regulation that requires public entities be accessible to individuals with disabilities. However, even though the ADA was updated in 2008, it fails to mention an individual’s rights to web accessibility. As a result, there have been many lawsuits regarding accessibility to company’s websites. Without regulation in the ADA, the decision on how to regulate accessibility has been up to individual judges, resulting in a wide range of decisions and leaving widespread uncertainty for plaintiffs.

In 2016, the National Association of the Deaf brought suit against Harvard on behalf of a class of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. The individuals claimed they were not provided with equal access to Harvard’s website and denied equal enjoyment to the site. The class of individuals was not able to view online lectures or educational materials that had been posted. A failure to take steps to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded or denied services is a violation of Title III of the ADA. The Court determined the type of auxiliary aid Harvard provides is up to Harvard, rather than the deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Though the type of auxiliary aid is at the website owner’s discretion, there is still a requirement that the owner put in place an auxiliary aid to make the website accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

Recently, eight suits similar to the case above have been filed in federal court for Emanuel Delacruz, a blind individual. Mr. Delacruz claims that in his attempt to access eight college’s websites, none were accessible, and therefore, violated the ADA. Professor Arlene Kanter states that students increasing awareness with their right to access has recently increased, and will likely continue to increase the number of similar law suits. However, Mr. Gottlieb, a founder of the firm, Gottlieb and Associates, explained without appropriate government intervention and reform, the interest of those who need it most will not be advanced.

The results of Mr. Delacruz’s suits remain uncertain. Until the ADA is updated to include an individual’s rights to web accessibility, there are no regulations, causing a range of decisions in response to similar suits.


Nat’l Ass’n of the Deaf v. Harvard, 2016 WL 3561622, (Mass. 2016).

Vivian Wang, College Websites Must Accommodate Disabled Students, Lawsuits Say (Oct. 11, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/nyregion/college-websites-disabled.html.

Americans with Disabilities Act 42 U.S.C. §12182(a).

Gene Therapy to Reverse Effects of Blindness: Science Fiction or Reality?

By: Rachel Theodorou

The FDA is considering a new type of gene therapy that may be able to reverse the effects of gene mutation that causes blindness. This therapy, Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec is its scientific name), targets the RPE65 gene, which causes Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA), a rare form of blindness that begins during infancy. If Luxturna is approved for widespread use, it will become the first gene therapy for the treatment of an inherited disease in United States history.

The procedure involves injecting a non-mutated RPE65 gene directly into the eye. In order to get the healthy gene into the retinal cell, researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania engineered a virus that would carry the healthy gene to the cells. The thought of injecting a virus into an eye is a frightening concept for many, but the potential downsides and side effects of Luxturna are few and far between. Similar to receiving a vaccine, injecting a virus into your body has the potential to cause harm in the form of spreading to other cells or causing an allergic reaction (also known as an immune reaction). Luxturna is not injected into the bloodstream, however, so its odds of spreading are incredibly low due to the eye’s isolated, self-contained nature.

Luxturna is the only gene therapy of its kind to render long-lasting results; other similar gene therapies have only temporarily restored eyesight. Twenty-seven out of twenty-nine patients who received the treatment as part of an experimental clinical trial showed a substantial improvement in functional vision, as demonstrated by a mobility assessment. While the FDA has yet to make a final decision, it is likely that Luxturna will be approved because of its high success rate and minimal side effects.


Susan Scutti, Experimental gene therapy for blindness considered by FDA, CNN (last visited Oct. 12, 2017), http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/11/health/gene-therapy-blindness-fda/index.html.

Starbucks Settles $10 Million Trademark Dispute Over Unicorn Blended Beverages

By: Elle Nainstein

Since the 1971 opening of its first store in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market, Starbucks Coffee Co. has grown to be one of the largest coffee companies in history, operating more than 24,000 retail stores in over 70 countries across the globe. Earlier this year, Starbucks released its “Unicorn Frappuccino” for a limited time between April 19th and 23rd. As of late, unicorn-themed foods have become increasingly popular across social media platforms, so it is no surprise that Starbucks felt the need to join in on the trend. However, Starbucks was not the first to create a commercially sold unicorn-themed beverage.

The End, a small cafe located in New York City, claims to have been the originators of the unicorn drink social media sensation. The End began selling its “Unicorn Latte” in December 2016, and soon after applied for a trademark in January 2017. In May, Montauk Juice Factory Inc., the parent company of The End, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Starbucks, demanding $10 million in damages and asserting that the rainbow beverage that Starbucks launched in April was a copycat of the colorful “Unicorn Latte” that the shop started selling last year.

The End’s “Unicorn Latte” was formulated in conjunction with Montauk Juice Factory. The two invested more than six months into the development of the beverage. According to the complaint, “[d]espite the distinctive name, the Unicorn Latte contained no coffee or milk and was instead a freshly-made blended beverage containing fresh ingredients such as cold-pressed ginger, lemon juice, dates, cashews, blended with additional healthy, dried ingredients such as maca root, blue-green algae, and vanilla bean.”

Within a month of its release, The End’s “Unicorn Latte” began appearing in articles published by both traditional and online media outlets, including both the New York Times and the Huffington Post. The End states that “[t]he press, coupled with advertising efforts and broad social media exposure on Facebook and Instagram (via the hashtag #unicornlatte), made the Unicorn Latte name and product famous.”

As for the Starbucks “Unicorn Frappuccino,” it lacks any indication of being healthy. The recipe calls for a crème based Frappuccino with mango syrup, colored with unicorn pink powder, blue drizzle made from white mocha sauce, classic simple syrup, and sour unicorn blue powder. The drink is then topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with a blue and pink unicorn dust.

The End believes that Starbucks released its unicorn-themed drink to overshadow their own. As per the complaint, “Starbucks’ massive and public launch of the Unicorn Frappuccino . . . meant that its product became the dominant ‘Unicorn’ beverage overnight . . . This, in turn, immediately caused consumer confusion whereby customers began referring to Starbucks’ product as a ‘Unicorn Latte,’ began assuming that [The End’s] product was a copy-cat or knockoff, and began asking employees at The End to serve them a ‘Unicorn Frappuccino.’” As a result, The End feels that consumers were misled to believe that it was copying Starbucks, ultimately causing irreparable damage to The End’s reputation and claim to fame.

Starbucks said the claims were “without merit.” Yet, on August 22, 2017, a one-page filing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District on New York revealed that the companies have agreed to settle their trademark dispute. Starbucks released a statement saying the action has been “amicably resolved on confidential terms.” A lawyer for Montauk Juice said the parties were “pleased to be able to move on.” While the court documents do not specify a settlement amount, the record shows that each party will pay their own costs and noted prejudice against the Defendant, Starbucks. As such, the agreement stipulates that The End has agreed not to sue Starbucks over any unicorn related drinks in the future.


Complaint, Montauk Juice Factory Inc., The End Brooklyn v. Starbucks Corporation d/b/a Starbucks Coffee Company, WL 1747128 (E.D.N.Y. 2017).) (No. 1:17-cv-02678).

Corinne Ramey, Starbucks and Brooklyn Cafe Settle Unicorn-Drink Lawsuit, Fox Business (Sept. 5, 2017), http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/09/05/starbucks-and-brooklyn-cafe-settle-unicorn-drink-lawsuit.html

Dave Simpson, Starbucks, NY Cafe Settle ‘Unicorn Frappuccino’ TM Row, Law360 (Sept. 5, 2017, 10:04 PM), https://www.law360.com/articles/960858/starbucks-ny-cafe-settle-unicorn-frappuccino-tm-row.

Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal with Prejudice Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 41(a)(1)(A)(ii), Montauk Juice Factory Inc., The End Brooklyn v. Starbucks Corporation d/b/a Starbucks Coffee Company, No. 1:17-cv-02678 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 5, 2017).

Starbucks Company Profile, Starbucks, https://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information/starbucks-company-profile (last visited Oct. 17, 2017).

Pumpkin, Spice, and Everything Nice

By: Rachel Theodorou

Every fall, a financial epidemic sweeps through the country, costing Americans over $500 million – this is what has become known as the “Pumpkin Spice Economy.” Since it’s launch by Starbucks in 2003, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (“PSL”) has created a hype, an obsession, that is unparalleled. Not only does Starbucks see a massive spike in profits during the fall months, but other cafes that serve their take on the drink benefit immensely as well.

The hype doesn’t stop there; pumpkin flavored yogurt, cereal, beer, home fragrance products, and even pumpkin flavored vodka become objects of the highest desire. One question persists – why are people so obsessed with pumpkin? The answer is quite scientific. Scientists have determined that approximately 80% of flavor is actually odor, and when an odor or flavor is combined with sugar consumption in a hungry person, a physiological reaction takes place on a subconscious level. People start associating that flavor with feeling satisfied, and crave more. It’s similar to the way drug addiction affects the body, only different neural mechanisms are at play with the PSL.

The obsession continues each and every year, and no one expects it to fall anytime soon.


Jacqueline Howard, What is “pumpkin spice,” anyway? And why do we crave it?, Cnn (last visited Sept. 23, 2017), http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/13/health/pumpkin-spice-ingredients-science-explainer/index.html.

Clare O’Connor, The Pumpkin Spice Economy: How Starbucks Lattes Fueled a $500 Million Craze, Forbes, (last visited Sept. 23, 2017), https://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2015/11/10/the-pumpkin-spice-economy-how-starbucks-lattes-fueled-a-500-million-craze/.

Legal Battle Between Qualcomm and Apple Escalates

Cecilia Santostefano

Earlier this month, Qualcomm confirmed that it has filed lawsuits in an intellectual property court in Beijing, China, where most iPhones are built. In its claim, the company asserted patent infringement and requested remedy in the form of an injunction, which has not been sought before and will delay the production and sale of Apple products in China.

According to Qualcomm, Apple is not compensating Qualcomm for the technology that it developed and licensed to Apple to use in its iPhones and similar models. Currently, Qualcomm is awarded royalties based on the total selling price of iPhones. For example, Apple buys 4G LTE chips from Intel, which uses Qualcomm’s technology. Therefore, Apple pays Qualcomm for the licensing of these processors, but it has to pay Qualcomm based on the $650 value of the iPhone, not $20 for the chip which, technically, Qualcomm also produces.

Qualcomm is alleging infringement on three non-standard essential patents, which cover power management and the Force Touch technology; Apple incorporates the latter into its touch screens. But, this is not the first time we are hearing of these allegations; Apple and Qualcomm began a feud earlier this year regarding whether Apple had to pay Qualcomm licensing fees.

In January 2017, Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion, accusing the company of charging unfair royalties for “technologies they have nothing to do with” and failing to pay for quarterly rebates. Additionally, Apple alleged Qualcomm charged excessive licensing fees by requesting a percentage of an iPhones entire value. It was at this time that Apple and its suppliers stopped paying Qualcomm all licensing fees. Qualcomm disagreed and justified its licensing fees by stating that its “inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modern technologies or cellular standards.” Additionally, it is Qualcomm’s position that Apple continues to use its technology while refusing to pay for it.

Following these incidents, Qualcomm filed a counterclaim and withheld all payments to iPhone manufacturers. Qualcomm even turned to the United States International Trade Commission in July, seeking to block the imports of “illegal” iPhone and iPad models into the United States. If this ban on imports were to become effective, it is unclear as to which iPhone models would be affected. As a result, the ITC began looking into Qualcomm’s battle with Apple surrounding its patents. The company is currently facing an FTC lawsuit in the United States for utilizing anticompetitive tactics in order to remain the dominant supplier of baseband processors for smartphones.

As of right now, the claims have not been made public in China. Apple believes Qualcomm’s assertions are meritless and will fail in China, as they have in other theaters, including the United States.

Juli Clover, Qualcomm Asks China to Stop Manufacturing and Selling iPhones via New Lawsuits, Mac Rumors, (Oct. 13, 2017, 10:28 PDT), https://www.macrumors.com/2017/10/13/apple-qualcomm-china-lawsuits/.

Christian de Looper, Apple vs. Qualcomm: Everything you need to know, Digital Trends, (Oct. 13, 2017, 1:24 PM), https://www.digitaltrends.com/business/apple-vs-qualcomm-news/.

Luke Dormehl, Apple sues Qualcomm for charging massive licensing fees, Cult of Mac, (Jan. 23, 2017, 5:00 AM), https://www.cultofmac.com/463631/apple-sues-qualcomm/.

Mike Freeman, Qualcomm sues Apple in China to ban assembly and sale of iPhones, The San Diego Union-Tribune, (Oct. 13, 2017, 3:25 PM) http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/technology/sd-fi-china-iphoneapple-20171013-story.html.

David Lumb, Qualcomm files lawsuit in China to stop production of iPhones, Engadget, (Oct. 13, 2017), https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/13/qualcomm-files-lawsuit-in-china-to-stop-production-of-iphones/.

Qualcomm files lawsuits in China to ban iPhones, Reuters, (Oct. 13, 2017, 1:13 PM), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-qualcomm-china/qualcomm-files-lawsuits-in-china-to-ban-iphones-idUSKBN1CI2E9.

Nintendo Wii Infringes Medical Device Patents, Jury Says

By: Nick Dellefave

A jury in the Northern District of Texas has found video game giant Nintendo guilty of patent infringement in connection with technology used in its Wii and Wii U controllers.

The suit, filed by medical device technology company iLife in 2013, alleged that the motion-sensing systems used in the controllers infringe six of iLife’s patents, including those titled Systems for Evaluating Movement of a Body and Methods of Operating the Same, System and Method for Detecting Motions of a Body, and Systems Within a Communications Device for Evaluating Movement of a Body and Methods of Operating the Same, issued between 2001 and 2009.

The systems Nintendo is alleged to have infringed include the use of accelerometers to track the movement of the body. According to iLife, the covered technologies were used in medical monitors intended to detect when elderly patients fell or infants were at risk of death from sudden infant death syndrome and to call an ambulance. iLife also filed suit against Under Armour and FitBit for using similar technologies in their products, though both suits were ultimately settled out of court.

In the lawsuit, iLife sought a $4 royalty on each Wii controller sold in the six years before the suit was filed – a total of 36 million units, or $144 million. While the jury did find infringement, it awarded iLife a relatively more modest sum of $1.1 million.

Nintendo has indicated that it intends to appeal, stating publicly that “Nintendo disagrees with the decision, as Nintendo does not infringe iLife’s patent and the patent is invalid. Nintendo looks forward to raising those issues with the district court and with the court of appeals.”


Brian Crecente, Wii Remote Lawsuit Ends in $10M Verdict Against Nintendo, Rolling Stone, http://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/wii-remote-lawsuit-ends-in-10m-verdict-against-nintendo-w500619 (August 31, 2017).

Nintendo loses court case over Wii motion controllers, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-41147512 (September 4, 2017).

Will Yakowicz, Nintendo Loses Patent Lawsuit, Ordered to Pay $10 Million, Inc., https://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/nintendo-loses-patent-infringement-case-wii.html (September 5, 2017).

Face ID: A Technological Advancement and a New Legal Battle

By: Christopher McIlveen

On September 12, 2017, Apple unveiled what they proclaim to be the greatest leap in the advancement of the smartphone since Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone. However, throughout the grandiose flaunting of the new features such as improved cameras and the ability to project oneself as an animated poop emoji, the new iPhone X poses a unique legal dilemma yet to be addressed in the courts.

Apple’s original innovation in the smartphone market of security was a slide to unlock feature, followed by the security feature of entering a user generated pin. However, this changed over time with the advancement of the technology in the iPhone. The iPhone improved from slide to unlock to the famous Touch ID fingerprint scanning, which brought with it a whole new realm of legal problems and implications under the Fifth Amendment.

Throughout its existence, Apple’s security measures have withstood the test of time as court cases have secured the protection status of a digital pin. Citizens derive their protection through the Fifth Amendment in which people cannot be compelled to testify against themselves. The progression of Apple’s devices lead to Touch ID, a feature that functioned as a fingerprint scanner that would unlock one’s smartphone. This feature, while undeniably a more convenient way of unlocking a phone, put Apple’s protection measures at risk. The Touch ID feature does not give the same protection under the Fifth Amendment as a pin. Nevertheless, Touch ID is still protected under the Fifth Amendment in which police cannot force someone to use their finger to unlock their phone, as this would force one to give evidence against themselves, circumventing their Fifth Amendment rights. Apple, with a desire to stay ahead in the smartphone market and building upon its convenience features, has now unveiled their newest addition, the Face ID feature, which further risks their user’s protection under the Fifth Amendment.

This new high tech feature poses a unique problem for Apple users. A pin is a user-generated protection and a fingerprint requires physically engaging with the device. However, with Face ID, one walks around daily with their password in plain view of everyone. Unlocking the new iPhone with Face ID simply requires glancing at the phone, providing the unique facial recognition password that is required, and swiping up. It is quite clear that this type of feature leaves room for exploitation. Will the police be able to unlock someone’s phone to retrieve evidence by holding it in front of their face? These questions have already raised concern from Apple’s critics and even their more cautious users. To their credit, Apple has implemented a shortcut to disable Face ID, carried out by holding down the left and right side buttons on the device. This reverts the phone’s unlocking method to the pin entry backup. However, most users will not know about this feature, let alone have the opportunity or even the chance to remember to do it if the need arises. Regardless of this major step in technological advancement for a smartphone, there will still be some users opting to disable Face ID to simply use the old and trusty user generated pin.

There may yet be hope for Apple’s innovative unlocking feature. The Supreme Court held that while police can search without a warrant in an effort to protect an officer and preserve evidence, they cannot do so for digital data. With this holding, Apple may have hope for the future of Face ID. While it is uncertain, the future is relatively safe in that the police do not have the right to seize an iPhone without warrant, and thus cannot access a protected phone.


Apple, iPhone X, https://www.apple.com/iphone-x/ (last visited Sept. 18, 2017).

U.S. Const. amend. V.

Riley v California, 134 S.Ct. 2473 (2014).