Court ruling: Police can coerce fingerprint to unlock iPhone
In a ruling passed down by Judge Steven Fucci, a criminal cannot be compelled to disclose any information, such as provide a pass-code to unlock a phone (witness against himself), but law enforcement can force a criminal to offer up a fingerprint, which could unlock a device like a new iPhone, iPad, and some Samsung devices.
A fingerprint is seen as the same as collected DNA or handwriting samples, allowed under law. A pass-code, and presumably a pattern lock, would require a defendant to “divulge knowledge,” which is expressly protected in the Fifth Amendment.
The ruling is related to a case against David Baust, accused of trying to strangle his girlfriend. Authorities think that Baust recorded a video of the incident on his iPhone, and requested the judge to coerce him to unlock the phone.
This ruling may be for naught however, as TouchID demands a pass-code if the device is not used for more than 48 hours, is restarted, or after three unsuccessful fingerprint scans. As slow as the court system moves, it is a certainty that Baust’s phone has been locked in an evidence room for more than a couple days, which means this phone is likely staying locked, barring a forensic attempt break into it.
sources: PilotOnline.com via MacRumors