Cops Might Use your iPhone Fingerprint Against You

iPhone-5S-Has-Fingerprint-Scanner-Repositioned-Buttons-Analyst-SaysAre you excited about the new iPhone’s nifty biometric fingerprint unlock system? The police might be, too.

Via Wall Street Journal:

Courts have given mixed messages about whether Americans are protected from being forced to divulge passwords or decrypt information for law enforcement officials. Civil liberties advocates argue defendants shouldn’t have to unlock their own computers for the cops.  The logic: Under the Fifth Amendment, Police can’t force you to self-incriminate by testifying, or divulging something in your mind.

It’s unclear if that same protection applies if the password is your fingerprint.

“A fingerprint is entitled to less constitutional protection than a password known in your mind,” said Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.  “If police arrest you and ask you for a password, you could refuse and they’d be hard pressed to force you to divulge the password.”

Of course, police already collect fingerprints after booking a suspect. And the Supreme Court has also held that police don’t need a search warrant to collect fingerprints.

It isn’t hard to imagine police also forcing a suspect to put his thumb on his iPhone to take a look inside, said Brian Hayden Pascal, a research fellow at the University of California Hastings Law School’s Institute for Innovation Law.

Hang up and keep reading.

Hat tip: BoingBoing.

5 Comments on "Cops Might Use your iPhone Fingerprint Against You"

  1. Article misses the obvious …

    This makes the iPhone a device to collect fingerprints from users. Everything they transmit is already collected by NSA / DEA / CIA / FBI. Are you going to voluntarily submit your fingerprint to the US government spy agencies?

  2. DeepCough | Sep 16, 2013 at 10:09 pm |

    Look on the bright side: at least the latest iPhone can’t be activated with a severed finger!

  3. dani pettas | Sep 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm |

    Great post. Really glad that people are talking about this point.

Comments are closed.