Court Rules Police Can Force Users to Unlock iPhones With Fingerprints, But Not Passcodes

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 31, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

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    A Circuit Court judge in Virginia has ruled that fingerprints are not protected by the Fifth Amendment, a decision that has clear privacy implications for fingerprint-protected devices like newer iPhones and iPads.

    According to Judge Steven C. Fucci, while a criminal defendant can't be compelled to hand over a passcode to police officers for the purpose of unlocking a cellular device, law enforcement officials can compel a defendant to give up a fingerprint.

    The Fifth Amendment states that "no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself," which protects memorized information like passwords and passcodes, but it does not extend to fingerprints in the eyes of the law, as speculated by Wired last year.
    The ruling stemmed from a case involving David Baust, who was accused of strangling his girlfriend. Prosecutors believed Baust may have stored video of the attack on his phone, and requested that the judge force him to unlock it. If protected by a passcode, Baust will not be required to unlock his phone under the Fifth Amendment, but if protected with a fingerprint, he could potentially be forced to unlock the device.

    If Baust's phone is an iPhone that's equipped with Touch ID, it's very likely that it will be passcode locked at this point and thus protected by law. Touch ID requires a passcode after 48 hours of disuse, a restart, or three failed fingerprint entry attempts, and the device has probably been in police custody for quite some time. It is unclear if the judge's ruling will have an impact on future cases involving cellular devices protected with fingerprint sensors, as it could be overturned by an appeal or a higher court.

    Article Link: Court Rules Police Can Force Users to Unlock iPhones With Fingerprints, But Not Passcodes
     
  2. farewelwilliams macrumors 68000

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    *attempts 10 times with an unregistered finger*
    *device auto-wipes*
     
  3. flash84x macrumors regular

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    So if you get arrested, turn off your phone. It requires a passcode after a reboot.
     
  4. macfoxpro macrumors 6502

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  5. Paddle1 macrumors 68040

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  6. miniyou64 macrumors 6502

    miniyou64

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    Yet another reason to not buy a device with Touch ID...
     
  7. deannnnn macrumors 68000

    deannnnn

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  8. penajmz macrumors 68040

    penajmz

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    #8
    iPhones are still protected because if Touch ID on then you must have a passcode too.
     
  9. bytethese macrumors 68030

    bytethese

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    Simple fix if you think you will be compelled to unlock via fingerprint, quickly reboot your phone or start using the wrong finger to unlock. It needs a password after that.
     
  10. lewisd25 macrumors 6502a

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    That will be pretty hard if you are in cuffs.
     
  11. Chatter macrumors 6502a

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    WTH? So my personal fingerprint is under state control (and can be used against me) but my personal memory of a passcode isn't. :rolleyes:

    Wonder what category retina scans fall under. :D
     
  12. flash84x macrumors regular

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    That's a stupid reason. You can always opt to not use it if you're this paranoid.
     
  13. Alimar macrumors 6502a

    Alimar

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    Make sure the phone is off... then it will ONLY accept the passcode!
     
  14. farewelwilliams macrumors 68000

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    #14
    i know which finger will unlock this phone?
    it's a one digit passcode essentially.
    you're welcome lawyers of the defendant
     
  15. WolfSnap macrumors 6502a

    WolfSnap

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    After 48 hours, 5 bad attempts, or a power-cycle, the fingerprint isn't useful any more. You need the passcode.

    Plus, nothing saying you need to tell them which finger is the right finger to use... Just use the wrong finger a few times. Which finger unlocks the device would be the same as the passcode.. You can't be compelled to use the correct finger.
     
  16. flash84x macrumors regular

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    The thought was to turn it off instead when they ask you to unlock it.
     
  17. dugbug macrumors 65816

    dugbug

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    wha? you are worried about warrants? You think you have to use touchid to begin with?
     
  18. ProVideo macrumors 6502

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    "Go back to bed, America. Your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control again. Here you go, America! You are free to do what we tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!"
     
  19. flash84x macrumors regular

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    Apple should let us enroll a "distress finger". So that when it is used it wipes the device.
     
  20. RabidMacFan macrumors regular

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    #20
    Use the wrong finger 5 times. It looks like the phone just isn't recognizing your fingerprint. After the 5th time, the ability to unlock your phone with Touch ID is completely removed, and you will have to enter your passcode to unlock.

    Just a reminder: Use a complex password, not a 4 digit pin.
     
  21. Zxxv macrumors 68040

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    You've never been arrested have you. Good luck with turning your iPhone off.
     
  22. WolfSnap macrumors 6502a

    WolfSnap

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    I like this idea.. But, you don't even really need to wipe it.. Just disable touchID.
     
  23. skwash macrumors member

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    Oops.. wrong finger.
    Oops.. wrong finger.
    Oops.. wrong finger..

    Oh, sorry it says a passcode is required.
     
  24. larrylaffer macrumors 6502a

    larrylaffer

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    Aw, you're so cute.
     
  25. christarp, Oct 31, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2014

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