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Can police unlock your phone? Stephanie Parze killing is a case study


ASBURY PARK, N.J. – Authorities investigating the disappearance of Stephanie Parze seized two cellphones in hopes they would offer clues about what happened to her.

They couldn’t open them.

The smartphones were locked, and the information they contained was protected by sophisticated encryption software. Apple and Google have rebuffed law enforcement’s attempts to force them to unlock phones connected to criminal investigations.

Parze’s remains were found on the side of a highway in Old Bridge, New Jersey, in January. Investigators concluded Parze’s on-again, off-again boyfriend John Ozbilgen killed her and tried to hide her body.

Stephanie Parze investigation:Prosecutor says boyfriend killed her

The case highlights challenges investigators have faced in the years since Apple refused demands to create a “backdoor” to give authorities direct access to iPhones, a struggle that pitted the U.S. government against the world’s largest company and raised questions about the balance between personal privacy and collective security.

Apple, which battled the FBI over access to cellphones of suspected terrorists, said it cannot unlock iPhones for police without compromising its customers’ privacy and the security of its devices.



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