Forcing You to Unlock Your Phone Fingerprint…Breach of Fifth Amendment Right?

The Police Are Allowed To Collect Physical Evidence, Such As Fingerprints. Using Touch ID To Unlock A Phone Is Considered Fair Play.

In a recent article by Matthew Deluca at NBC News, he uncovers a colossal distinction in the law between unlocking a phone using a fingerprint vs. inputting a numerical password. You might remember the recent and public brawl between Apple and the FBI over hacking into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino’s attackers last December. The judge ruled for Apple to comply with “reasonable technical assistance.” Then in February, a California woman was compelled by a search warrant to unlock her iPhone using Touch ID. The case calls to question a person’s Fifth Amendment right to protect themselves against self-incrimination.

Since the 2014 case of Riley v. California, the law requires a search warrant in order to open and access a phone confiscated during an arrest. Here’s the catch, they are allowed to collect physical evidence, such as fingerprints, which means using Touch ID to unlock a phone is considered fair play.

Laws were written before smartphones were on the market and cases like these may have tech companies rethinking their push for using a fingerprint as a security mechanism. Your fingerprint doesn’t just establish whether you were at the scene of a crime anymore, it has the capacity to unlock and access your entire life via cell phone – think Cloud storage, photos, location indicators, private communication and more. Keep your eye out, the question as to what law enforcement can and cannot do with a confiscated phone will likely be heading to the Supreme Court.

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