Judge Grants Search Warrant Forcing Woman to Unlock iPhone With Touch ID

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacRumors, May 2, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    For the first time in a federal case, authorities in a Los Angeles courtroom have issued a search warrant forcing a woman to bypass her iPhone's biometric security using Apple's Touch ID system (via LA Times). The woman in question -- Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan -- was arrested due to charges of identity theft and had previous strings of various criminal convictions.

    According to jail records, U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Rosenberg signed the Touch ID-related search warrant about 45 minutes after Bkhchadzhyan was taken into custody on February 25. By the afternoon of her arrest, the suspect pleaded no contest to the charges of identity theft and gave the court her fingerprint to unlock the iPhone.

    Police recovered Bkhchadzhyan's smartphone at the residence of her boyfriend, Sevak Mesrobian, known to be the member of a local gang, so it's unclear whether the contents of the device were sought after due to Bkhchadzhyan's crimes or her proximity to Mesrobian's gang.

    The court's decision in the case follows the thin rules regarding a person's Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination, which relates that numeric passcodes are protected individual privacies, but fingerprints are not. For this reason, some believe new modern laws need to be enacted specifically detailing fingerprint-related security features.
    Still, others believe the biometric nature of Touch ID might largely follow in line with the 5th Amendment's prohibition of self-incrimination. "Unlike disclosing passcodes, you are not compelled to speak or say what's 'in your mind' to law enforcement," Albert Gidari, the director of privacy at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, said. "'Put your finger here' is not testimonial or self-incriminating."

    This line of thinking flows directly from a 2014 case in Virginia, wherein a judge ruled that a man could not be ordered to present his passcode to the court, because that "entailed revealing knowledge and therefore testifying." Using Touch ID on his iPhone was ruled legal, however, and compared to providing the court with a key, instead of divulging information known only to him.

    Although unrelated, the Los Angeles case follows a couple of months of heated debate between Apple and the FBI, as the government agency attempted to compel Apple into helping it hack into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Eventually the FBI withdrew its lawsuit after finding its own way into the iPhone 5c, which reportedly cost the agency less than $1 million.

    Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

    Article Link: Judge Grants Search Warrant Forcing Woman to Unlock iPhone With Touch ID
     
  2. sputnikv macrumors 6502

    sputnikv

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  3. rdlink macrumors 68040

    rdlink

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    #3
    "Oh wait, was it this finger or that one? I don't remember..."
     
  4. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

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    yikes .. i guess people will start disabling touch id for long passcodes
     
  5. WordsmithMR macrumors 6502

    WordsmithMR

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    #5
    Well there you go. Privacy is essentially over, as is our fifth amendment right. Not an advocate for criminals but this slippery slope leads to a lot more than criminal persecution.
     
  6. jayducharme macrumors 68030

    jayducharme

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    If you're arrested for allegedly committing a crime and the courts order you to use your physical key to open a safe deposit box so they can examine the contents, is that legal? It seems like this case would be no different, with a key of a more modern kind being used to access the files.
     
  7. Aldaris macrumors 65816

    Aldaris

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    #7
    How about an auto-destruct wipe finger.

    Say you put your middle finger and all your phones content gets wiped.
     
  8. macintologist macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Mainstream civil libertarians don't really have an issue with this. Courts have long held that you have the right to remain silent and thus can keep your password a secret in your head. But you do not have the right to withhold a fingerprint, a cheek swab or something else, with a warrant.
     
  9. jkcerda macrumors 6502

    jkcerda

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    #9
    I do.
    --- Post Merged, May 2, 2016 ---
    that would be great.
     
  10. MH01 macrumors G4

    MH01

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    #10
    Touchid is a great convience, but if you are very serious about privacy/security, disable it and use a long passcodes, it's very hard to remember those codes when stressed....
     
  11. usarioclave macrumors 65816

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    How long do you have to appeal for before TouchID doesn't work?
     
  12. mariusignorello macrumors 6502a

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    The minute you see the police restart your phone.
     
  13. jayducharme macrumors 68030

    jayducharme

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    #13
    What an appropriate finger to use!
     
  14. heeloliver macrumors 6502a

    heeloliver

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    #14
    Just keep trying the wrong finger until iOS demands your actual password.
     
  15. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

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    #15
    only 10 times if you have the wipe feature enabled

    yup
     
  16. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    #16
    This is a great analogy.

    The only difference I can think of is brute force. The police can open most physical locks if you refuse to comply with a valid court order. In the case of the safety deposit box, they can subpoena the bank to open it for them. They seem to have trouble opening digital ones though. Not saying this is a reason to throw away all privacy, but it is a difference between the physical world and the digital one, at least for now.
     
  17. macduke macrumors 604

    macduke

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    #17
    Not sure how I feel about this yet, except to say that it's better than broadly installing back doors in every American operating system.

    Was also thinking this: Couldn't they just take her fingerprints when they book her and then recreate them using that really complicated Touch ID hack? So even if this gets overruled somehow, I don't think it preludes them from using that hack. The only problem is they have 48 hours to do it before the phone requires a passcode. It's a trick to pull off—that much is certain! But doable in some cases.
     
  18. peterh988 macrumors 6502

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    Hmmm, just managed to 'wrong finger' my 6s 5 times in about 3 seconds to get to the passcode requirement screen, so it could be possible to screw it up unless the rozzers are on top of their game.
     
  19. gaximus macrumors 6502a

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    you should be able to temporarily (until the next time its locked), disable touch ID. Maybe with a left swipe, or an onscreen button next to the keypad.
     
  20. HiVolt macrumors 6502

    HiVolt

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    #20
    Wait a minute, isn't the passcode automatically required after 48 hours of the phone being locked, or anytime after reboot?

    The legal proceeding likely took longer than 48 hours after the phone was confiscated, no? So either A, the battery died, or B, 48 hours passed requiring the passcode.

    Unless I'm mistaken, what's the point of this?

    Edit: nevermind, I should read the article a bit next time, lol, the warrant was issued 45 minutes after she was arrested.
     
  21. goobot macrumors 603

    goobot

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    #21
    It right in the article says they signed the warrant 45 minutes after taken into custody.
     
  22. ChazSch macrumors 6502

    ChazSch

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    #22
    its going to come down to what the crime is...trespassing will probably not warrant (literally) this...stalking would etc.
     
  23. HiVolt macrumors 6502

    HiVolt

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    #23
    yeah, it's monday... i'm still half asleep at work lol.
     
  24. neuropsychguy macrumors 6502a

    neuropsychguy

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  25. techwhiz macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    A fingerprint can be compelled. The courts have decided this. You cannot be compelled to provide a password.
    The difference is in the definition of self incrimination and something that exists without you needed to be a party. Your fingerprint exists and you can be compelled to provide a fingerprint as evidence. Forcing disclosure of a password, implies speech and that cannot be compelled.

    No issue. If you a a criminal, lock with a passcode or reboot your phone.
     

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