Tech Companies: Privacy Breech or Saving Lives?

As the search for Molly Tibbetts from Iowa continues, her dad pleads for tech companies to help. Should tech companies be forced to help in matters like this? Scroll down to see results.

Iowa sophomore college student Molly Tibbets went missing in her small town of Brooklyn, Iowa on July 19, when she went for her usual nightly run. She was known around the community to be an avid runner who wore a Fitbit to track her distances.

Her Fitbit may be a clue to uncovering what happened to Molly Tibbets on that July night. Fitbit and other technological devices have been known to uncover missing people, or at least paint a better picture of someone’s whereabouts before they went missing. In fact, technology has become a critical role in helping to locate a missing person, as more and more people have become dependent on devices on daily basis. However, Tibbetts’ case is an example of how those crucial tools have their limits.

Tibbetts used platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and a slew of electronic devices – all of which use GPS locators or Geotags, which are composed of location-specific information from a device, according to Fox News.

Although retrieving such information from social media and tech firms has not always been so easy, because companies are not legally required to do. These companies are always skeptical to do so because they believe it undermines the privacy of their use. This has created a back-and-forth dispute between tech firms and law enforcement officials. An example has been the San Bernardino case, where two terrorists killed 14 people and seriously injured 22 others, and Apple refused to encrypt its own fingerprint technology software. Apple was worried to do so because once that technology was released, it could not be pulled back. However, a third-party company ended up encrypting the software without Apple’s help.

Mollie, who was 20 years old, lived on those platforms just like every person her age. Her last form of communication was to her boyfriend via Snapchat.  Her father told Fox News, that everyone knew her to always be on her phone, so he is pleading for tech firms to look into her phone activity.

Investigators covering her case have filed dozens of warrants for her social media accounts, but according to tech expert Jason Glassberg, the warrant may only uncover metadata information, including conversations and social sharing.

“Unfortunately, this is a two-part request,” Glassberg said. “And all of it is time sensitive, both where she was and who were the people who contacted her would all be of interest. But, I think, [legally] the way this plays out is that they separate the location data from the actual context data.”

Glassberg goes on to add that once that happens, “all the security is out the window. “

A triangular effect from the cell phone and GPS to derive the exact longitude and latitude location of a phone is one way networks and law enforcement use to locate someone when a phone is still not shut off.

Once a device dies, options and methods are limited, because they no longer transmit or receive information. The longer a phone stays dead, “then the information grows cold,” according to Glassberg.

As Molly Tibbetts’ father continues to plead for tech companies to help, the question of should tech companies help uncover missing persons keeps coming up. However, the violation of our security raises many concerns. Should tech companies be enforced to help in matters like this? 38% of people don’t think so because it’s a privacy breach, while 62% of people think they should, in an effort to save lives. Read the full story on Fox News here.

Here’s how people on the Zip app are weighing in on this all over the country!

As the search for Molly Tibbetts from Iowa continues, her dad pleads for tech companies to help. Should tech companies be forced to help in matters like this?

38% No, privacy breach
62% Yes, save lives
42% No, privacy breach
58% Yes, save lives
28% No, privacy breach
72% Yes, save lives

No, privacy breach

Yes, save lives

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