The FBI is asking for Google's help after being unable to crack the code for an Android phone belonging to a convicted San Diego pimp.
Law enforcement computer experts were unable to get past the phone's password and need the information inside it for their case.
The FBI has a warrant to unlock the phone that was confiscated from accused pimp Dante Dears just months after he was released from prison. Dears is accused of quote "telephone pimping" to get around his GPS/electronic monitor.
A founding member of the prostitution ring "Pimpin’ Hoes Daily" - Dante Dears went to prison in 2005.
But, in May of last year he got out - moved into an apartment complex and according to the FBI - started pimping again, this time using his phone to call the shots while avoiding strict supervision.
One problem - when agents seized his Samsung phone just like this one - they couldn't crack his modern pattern lock password - entering repeated incorrect patterns caused the phone to lock out.
"Up until very recently, I've not heard of law enforcement not being able to crack any sort of password code,” said former federal prosecutor Jon Kirby. He'd heard this day was coming when consumer phones could stump the experts.
With Dears not cooperating, the FBI was forced to get a search warrant asking Google to turn over the phone's information.
San Diego attorneys who deal with privacy issues - say the tech giant gets requests like this all the time, but will only comply with an authentic search warrant to avoid violating customer rights and getting sued.
"If Google believes the search warrant is authentic and has no reason not to comply since a criminal process has been complied with in this case, I would assume they would,” said media lawyer Guylyn. “Google is very protective of their customers as far as information goes."
But, this is one customer according to the experts where that doesn't seem to be the case.
A Google spokesperson said they comply with valid legal process.
“Whenever we receive a request we make sure it meets both the letter and spirit of the law before complying,” they said. “If we believe a request is overly broad, we will seek to narrow it."