Writing Locket Search Warrants

March 31, 2024
Featured image for “Writing Locket Search Warrants”

Sharing moments with friends, no matter where they are, is the core concept behind the Locket widget.  When the photo being shared crosses a line, Locket may be at the center of your investigation.  This quick guide covers what the Locket app is, how it works, and tips for writing Locket warrants.

Locket is a phone widget that allows users to instantly share photos to their friend’s home screens. A phone widget is a small application that displays on a smartphone’s home screen, offering quick access to app features or information without opening the app. They displaying real-time data or provide shortcuts to app functionalities.  Widgets are commonly used to display the weather or upcoming appointments from your calendar.  

How the Locket widget works

Locket Labs Inc. is the developer of Locket, the widget that enables users to send live photos directly to the home screens of selected contacts. After installing the Locket app and setting it up, a user can take a photo, and it will immediately appear on the home screen widget of the friends or family they’ve chosen to share with. In the screenshot to the right, the Locket widget appears in the upper left corner of my screen. It is displaying a photo of an iced coffee that was sent by a friend.

This tool bypasses conventional social media or messaging apps, offering a direct and personal way to share moments.  In order for a photo to be sent to a friend, they must be a registered user of the Locket app and have accepted a friend request.  This security feature prevents random users from sending photos and provides a valuable investigative lead; the friend invitation is sent to the user’s phone number.

The widget also includes a messaging feature, allowing users to communicate through text directly related to the photos shared. Messaging is only available once a photo is received.  The messaging feature works like comments made in response to a photo with the specific text sent or received being attached to an individual photo like a thread.  Locket does not have a traditional text message style chat feature.

While Locket can be used by anyone, the widget is generally used by teenagers and college students. This demographic often seeks alternatives to public social media platforms for sharing personal moments with friends and family. Because Locket is a non-public, one to one connection, photos are shared with individuals and not posted for anyone to see like Facebook or Instagram.  

For law enforcement professionals, understanding how the Locket widget operates is crucial for cases involving digital communication. The evidence that can be collected from Locket through a search warrant falls into three categories: subscriber information, media and messaging.  When a user signs up for locket, they are required to provide their name and phone number.  Most users will upload a profile photo, but it is not required.  The phone number is the primary account identifier and is how friend connections are made.  Because sending photos to friends is the whole point of the app, photos are saved within the account unless specifically deleted.  Messaging is a useful way to add context to the photo.  Generally, messages are sent in the form of reaction like thumbs up or fire, but typed text can be useful in investigation.  

The Locket widget is not common in criminal investigations, but it has the potential for abuse.  Inappropriate photos being sent to friends are likely to get law enforcement involved.  Because “friends” are known to users and identified by phone number, law enforcement may be able to bypass the need to write a search warrant to Locket.  Behind the scenes records like IP{ address logs or interactions with other users may be critical evidence in your case and should not be overlooked.