Court rules man must be given access to husband's iCloud photos

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in iCloud
Apple must provide a man access to the iCloud account of his late husband so he can retrieve family photos shot with an iPhone and a dedicated camera, a New York judge has ruled.

iCloud


Nicholas Scandalios has so far been locked out of the Apple ID belonging to his husband, Ric Swezey, who was killed in an accident two years ago, according to MarketWatch. Apple hasn't been outright fighting the request, but did insist that Scandalios obtain a court order.

"Apple shall afford the opportunity to reset the password to [Swezey's] Apple ID," Surrogate Judge Rita Mella wrote in her ruling.

Complicating the situation is that Swezey's will didn't contain language authorizing access. Mella's opinion stated that the photos weren't a form of "electronic communication" requiring proof of consent or even a court order, which could help build precedent against Apple's position.

Most U.S. states -- New York included -- now have laws giving an estate's executor default access to all material stored locally on a device, but requiring a will or court order for anything kept in cloud storage. Among the only exceptions are Oklahoma, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Kentucky, as well as Delaware, which transfers access to all digital content.

How to handle the online accounts of the dead is still a developing field, since many services are a decade old or less. iCloud for example was launched in 2011, and iCloud Photo Library is even younger, dating back to October 2014.

Apple is typically compliant with legal orders to access cloud data, including those from police and spy agencies. It does sometimes put up resistance, most famously in the case of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, when the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice sought a backdoor into Farook's iPhone. The company refused, both on constitutional grounds and claiming that it would fundamentally compromise iOS security. The DOJ backed down when it managed to crack the iPhone with third-party assistance.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,104member
    We’re talking about family so why wouldn’t each of them have written down essential account information and stored them in a safe? If they had the surviving spouse would have been able to access the deceased Apple ID.

    it’s not Apple’s responsibility to do this. Forcing Apple to do it sets a bad precedent for other types of access by police and others. 
    edited January 27 williamlondonLordeHawklostkiwiradarthekatzroger73ravnorodomronnkingofsomewherehotsocalbrianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 31
    rob53 said:
    We’re talking about family so why wouldn’t each of them have written down essential account information and stored them in a safe? If they had the surviving spouse would have been able to access the deceased Apple ID.

    it’s not Apple’s responsibility to do this. Forcing Apple to do it sets a bad precedent for other types of access by police and others. 
    On one hand that’s true, but on the other hand it used to be normal for details about one’s spouse to be readily given to the other. Less than 20 years ago one could call up businesses and get details about nearly everything and make decisions on behalf of their spouse, and that was expected and normal (and on an unrelated side note, it was equally if not more normal for women to do the same for their husbands despite the false narrative modern feminism presents). As people have stopped valuing marriage, commitment, and unity and have instead shifted in favour of autonomy and self protection (because of the few who abuse those privileges), those privileges have changed.

    In any case, I also wonder why this is news.
    edited January 27 williamlondonchristophblostkiwifirelockwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 31
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,894member
    Getting a court order is the correct process in this case. It wasn’t in the Will.
    MplsPrepressthisJFC_PAjbdragonradarthekatchiacwingravzroger73stantheman
  • Reply 4 of 31
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,727member
    entropys said:
    Getting a court order is the correct process in this case. It wasn’t in the Will.
    Completely agree. This case was fairly straight forward, but there are others that aren’t. Apple’s policy is reasonable, and they followed it.
    rob53 said:
    We’re talking about family so why wouldn’t each of them have written down essential account information and stored them in a safe? If they had the surviving spouse would have been able to access the deceased Apple ID.

    it’s not Apple’s responsibility to do this. Forcing Apple to do it sets a bad precedent for other types of access by police and others. 
    I can think of many reasons why one parter didn’t know the password. Maybe he had just changed it and hadn’t written down the new one. Who knows. 

    From the court order, “Apple shall afford the opportunity...” In other words, yes, it is Apple’s responsibility. Beyond that, it’s their legal obligation. I’m curious to know why this sets a bad precedent? Due process was followed and the court issued a legal order. Are you suggesting that no company should ever give anyone other than the owner access to anything?
    StrangeDayschristophb
  • Reply 5 of 31
    clexmanclexman Posts: 150member
    rob53 said:
    We’re talking about family so why wouldn’t each of them have written down essential account information and stored them in a safe? If they had the surviving spouse would have been able to access the deceased Apple ID.

    it’s not Apple’s responsibility to do this. Forcing Apple to do it sets a bad precedent for other types of access by police and others. 
    Considering that writing passwords down is not recommended, it doesn't seem that not having them written down is surprising. My wife forgets her passwords all the time and has to reset them. I don't remember all of them.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 31
    WmHWmH Posts: 4member
    Something is amiss here, why did they not have photo library or iCloud library shared if they were married, passwords shared, the other husband should have all the photos between the two, no court order given or needed. Get down to the real reason!!!
    zroger73watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 31
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,462member
    WmH said:
    Something is amiss here, why did they not have photo library or iCloud library shared if they were married, passwords shared, the other husband should have all the photos between the two, no court order given or needed. Get down to the real reason!!!
    Apple does not offer a shared photo library and anyone who doesn't also have a Mac may not have it locally stored.  

    I recently went through this with a parent passing and Apple was helpful and a specialist guided me through the process.  We had to follow state procedures to get the court issue the order/permission. Each state handles digital property management in their own way.  Some don't even offer it in a Will.  Also there is no probate when there is a surviving spouse in community property states so there's no legal documents associated with passing digital property.

    Good on Apple for protecting property and privacy.  
    edited January 27 williamlondonRoger_FingasJFC_PAbonobobbageljoeychasmchiastanthemanredgeminipajbdragon
  • Reply 8 of 31
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,104member
    clexman said:
    rob53 said:
    We’re talking about family so why wouldn’t each of them have written down essential account information and stored them in a safe? If they had the surviving spouse would have been able to access the deceased Apple ID.

    it’s not Apple’s responsibility to do this. Forcing Apple to do it sets a bad precedent for other types of access by police and others. 
    Considering that writing passwords down is not recommended, it doesn't seem that not having them written down is surprising. My wife forgets her passwords all the time and has to reset them. I don't remember all of them.
    Actually, writing down and protecting your Apple ID password is recommended. Apple no longer retains any way to recover that password so it makes sense to save it somehow. Put it in a safe or safety deposit box. Just don’t write it on a sticky and put it on the back of your keyboard. 
    macplusplusronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 31
    No problem.  Nothing to see here, just a family and courts going through the process.

    Might want to spell out digital assets in your will though.  One poster here at appleinsider had over $150k in music... it would be a shame to have it just disappear.
    dewme
  • Reply 10 of 31
    rob53 said:
    clexman said:
    rob53 said:
    We’re talking about family so why wouldn’t each of them have written down essential account information and stored them in a safe? If they had the surviving spouse would have been able to access the deceased Apple ID.

    it’s not Apple’s responsibility to do this. Forcing Apple to do it sets a bad precedent for other types of access by police and others. 
    Considering that writing passwords down is not recommended, it doesn't seem that not having them written down is surprising. My wife forgets her passwords all the time and has to reset them. I don't remember all of them.
    Actually, writing down and protecting your Apple ID password is recommended. Apple no longer retains any way to recover that password so it makes sense to save it somehow. Put it in a safe or safety deposit box. Just don’t write it on a sticky and put it on the back of your keyboard. 
    Dude, there’s a recovery process to reset for any AppleID.  Two-factor, security questions, etc.  You just have to prove you are you which is hard when you aren’t you or if you’ve assumed room temperature.
    fahlmanradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 31
    WmH said:
    Something is amiss here, why did they not have photo library or iCloud library shared if they were married, passwords shared, the other husband should have all the photos between the two, no court order given or needed. Get down to the real reason!!!
    Thinking that a married couple would not have a reason to have their own photo library is short sighted. My wife is a special needs teacher. Part of her job is to document outings with the kids. It would be inappropriate for the photos to go my phone. Of course the school has access but I don't and shouldn't. Another easy one. Your work provides your phone, why would you want photos from your spouse going to a work phone. Now they should have own each others passwords but stuff and life happens.
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 31
    fahlmanfahlman Posts: 700member
    rob53 said:
    clexman said:
    rob53 said:
    We’re talking about family so why wouldn’t each of them have written down essential account information and stored them in a safe? If they had the surviving spouse would have been able to access the deceased Apple ID.

    it’s not Apple’s responsibility to do this. Forcing Apple to do it sets a bad precedent for other types of access by police and others. 
    Considering that writing passwords down is not recommended, it doesn't seem that not having them written down is surprising. My wife forgets her passwords all the time and has to reset them. I don't remember all of them.
    Actually, writing down and protecting your Apple ID password is recommended. Apple no longer retains any way to recover that password so it makes sense to save it somehow. Put it in a safe or safety deposit box. Just don’t write it on a sticky and put it on the back of your keyboard. 
    Recommended by whom? I don't have a clue what my password is for my Apple ID. 1Password remembers it for me. If your not using a password manager and you can remember more than a couple passwords, you either have an abnormally great memory, you use a password "system" that can be reverse engineered, or your passwords are terrible.
    christophbmwhitejbdragon
  • Reply 13 of 31
    How to handle the online accounts of the dead is still a developing field, since many services are a decade old or less. iCloud for example was launched in 2011, and iCloud Photo Library is even younger, dating back to October 2014.
    Gimmie a break. iCloud is just another in a list of rebrandings Apple has done for iTools -- a service started in 2002. Even today, the incoming mail server for iCloud accounts is still "imap.mail.me.com". I had a few photo albums hosted on my iTools pages back then. Photobucket was launched in 2003.


    edited January 27
  • Reply 14 of 31
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,189member
    clexman said:
    rob53 said:
    We’re talking about family so why wouldn’t each of them have written down essential account information and stored them in a safe? If they had the surviving spouse would have been able to access the deceased Apple ID.

    it’s not Apple’s responsibility to do this. Forcing Apple to do it sets a bad precedent for other types of access by police and others. 
    Considering that writing passwords down is not recommended, it doesn't seem that not having them written down is surprising. My wife forgets her passwords all the time and has to reset them. I don't remember all of them.
    This is why you use something like Lastpass.  You shouldn't know any of your passwords.  If you can, they're to easy to break!!!.  Lastpass also has a feature you can turn on so that on the case of your death, you can have others gain access.  This is done by giving others a password. They start the process.  Lastpass will email you and at a timeframe you set, if you don't respondct u know, because you're dead, your spouse or whoever can then gain access to all your passwords.

    My passwords these days are at least 20 digits, all computer generated with Lastpass.  It works with all my different hardware.  It's pretty quick to log into sites on the iPhone these days.  FaceID makes it pretty painless.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 31
    That’s the way they chose to live, so it is what it is. but you have to wonder what kind of relationship it was that the password wasn’t shared. 

    Seems a little off. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 31
    That’s the way they chose to live, so it is what it is. but you have to wonder what kind of relationship it was that the password wasn’t shared. 

    Seems a little off. 
    Says more about you than them :D
    jbdragonronnlamboaudi4
  • Reply 17 of 31
    No problem.  Nothing to see here, just a family and courts going through the process.

    Might want to spell out digital assets in your will though.  One poster here at appleinsider had over $150k in music... it would be a shame to have it just disappear.
    Yeah, but the jury's out if the license granting access to music (because you don't own it any more) can be transferred to anybody, will or no.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 31
    Does this mean in certain states a person's online accounts can also be bequeathed to an heir? Eg, Apple software purchases?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 31
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 1,022member
    That’s the way they chose to live, so it is what it is. but you have to wonder what kind of relationship it was that the password wasn’t shared. 

    Seems a little off. 
    That’s the way they chose to live, so it is what it is. but you have to wonder what kind of relationship it was that the password wasn’t shared. 

    Seems a little off. 
    What a load of shit. My wife and me share no passwords. If I want to see something I just need to ask. The same goes the other way around. The idea that married people are joined at the hip/password is ridiculous. I suppose you expect couples to share a Facebook account too?
    MplsPjbdragonmike1lamboaudi4watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,296member
    Technology is always a few steps ahead of legislation. It will take time for balanced legislation to develop as there are so many issues involved.

    In the meantime, Apple's blanket protocol seems reasonable and allows it to cover its back.

    Insurance companies should be adapting to digital lifestyle issues and specifically cover the paperwork/legal side in this kind of issue.

    Perhaps we need a common framework for personal files whereby users can set out what should happen in this kind of case and which would allow family members to access to the files in line with the owner's wishes.

    A common framework would also allow family members to know exactly which services were being used.

    This would allow the possibility of tagging files and folders as 'my eyes only' to make sure certain elements would remain permanently off limits to anyone but the owner.

    Instant deletion protocols are probably out of the question for security reasons but there is the option of establishing a secure deletion option upon reaching an expiry date.

    There are a whole lot of considerations to br made but legislation is the way to go. It just takes time.
    edited January 28 neilm
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