“Apple Plans to Scan US iPhones for Child Abuse Imagery” – Reason.com
It would be important to learn just how much government pressure Apple was under to implement such a feature, or even whether the government actively solicited this (even in the absence of coercive pressure). Some courts have concluded that the Fourth Amendment applies even to private searches if the police “instigated” or “encouraged” the search, and the private entity “engaged in the search with the intent of assisting the police”; see also, for instance, this decision and this nonprecedential decision. The Supreme Court’s Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives’ Ass’n points in that direction as well (though the program there had some special features, such as removal of legal barriers to the searches). Other courts, though, conclude that mere “governmental encouragement of private ‘searches’” isn’t enough, and that the private search becomes government action covered by the Fourth Amendment only if there is compulsion (perhaps including subtle compulsion).