Court ruling: Police can coerce fingerprint to unlock iPhone

Court ruling: Police can coerce fingerprint to unlock iPhone
While one might think that this would not be an issue in the wake of the United States Supreme Court ruling that police must obtain a warrant in order to search a cell phone, a protection extended by the Fourth Amendment, this ruling in a lower circuit court in Virginia says that a fingerprint of a suspect is not protected by the Fifth Amendment, which states in part that a person will not “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

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

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50 Comments

1. Industriality

Posts: 131; Member since: Sep 08, 2014

Hahaha pathetic. Glad I don't live in US where you can get shot at every corners, by police or low lifes, you choose.

2. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Please do tell of this great country you reside in?

7. Malcolm.Merlyn

Posts: 160; Member since: Sep 28, 2014

he lives in Afghanistan. Where he shoots people.

19. Daftama

Posts: 641; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

What lame come back as if police are robots... I'm assuming you must of visited Afghanistan and not judging the lame media Intel..

23. Miracles

Posts: 560; Member since: Aug 31, 2013

He probably doesnt know what happens in his country. A country where the media doesn't tell people the truth.

25. darkknight

Posts: 20; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

As he said he is not living in USA ;).

29. Miracles

Posts: 560; Member since: Aug 31, 2013

At least the media in the US have some truth...medias in other countries are practically run by the government to cover up their sht. Ignorance isnt bliss.

45. bonsly16

Posts: 94; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Typical American Exceptionalism. You act as if the United States is the only country to provide their citizens with certain freedoms and rights. Please educate yourself about the world. You'd be surprised. Ignorance is bliss.

46. Miracles

Posts: 560; Member since: Aug 31, 2013

I never said nor was I implying that the US is the only country with freedom. So way to go off topic. If you been to any developing country and or read some "real" world news..you will know that "freedom" is available in those countries, but it is not the freedom that you see in Europe or North America. Those freedoms and rights are easily bypassed in those places.

48. bonsly16

Posts: 94; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Then why assume "he probably doesn't know what happens in his country?" Oh, because he doesn't live in the US.

54. Miracles

Posts: 560; Member since: Aug 31, 2013

Its obvious that he does live in the US. Still doesnt justify that I was only speaking for the US and not Europe or any other developed country. Again off topic...its pointless talking to someone who thinks ignorance is bliss. If u were or are a politician....god help those ppl. I digress so continue wasting ur time over this.

3. uzimafioso

Posts: 469; Member since: Jul 15, 2014

Oh so what kind of a troll are ya?

18. RuiBacelar

Posts: 153; Member since: Feb 25, 2014

Thumbs up from Portugal.

27. darkkjedii

Posts: 31326; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You guys are giving him just what he wants...attention.

5. tedkord

Posts: 17417; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

This is a potentially bad ruling. Really bad. While I agree that a fingerprint isn't protected by the Fifth Amendment, the personal information on your phone is protected by the Fourth. When the police come to your home, just because the door is unlocked doesn't mean they can search it without a warrant. A security barrier isn't the issue, the issue is that you're protected from unreasonable search and seizure by the Fourth Amendment. They still need a warrant to search your phone.

6. Awalker

Posts: 1982; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

This has nothing to do with the Fourth Amendment. The police still need a warrant to search your phone.

10. Sauce2

Posts: 199; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

They can search your phone without a warrant now. This happened about 3 months ago. Im surprised it wasn't on PA.

14. Awalker

Posts: 1982; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

They reported on the Supreme Court ruling that the police can not search your phone without a warrant a few months ago. They have a link to it in the first sentence of this article.

49. a_merryman

Posts: 749; Member since: Dec 14, 2011

Yeah, and talk about it. It was actually a really important ruling. I feel like this ruling will be challenged and overturned.

21. Philipand96

Posts: 103; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

I agree 100% with your comments FRUIT OF THE POISONESS TREE, [cut & paste from wiki 1st 2 paragraphs ] "Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal metaphor in the United States used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally.[1] The logic of the terminology is that if the source (the "tree") of the evidence or evidence itself is tainted, then anything gained (the "fruit") from it is tainted as well. The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine was first described in Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385 (1920).[2][3][4] The term's first use was by Justice Felix Frankfurter in Nardone v. United States (1939). Such evidence is not generally admissible in court. [5] For example, if a police officer conducted an unconstitutional (Fourth Amendment) search of a home" If we accept that the fingerprint is a key 4th Amendment rights kick in Say the iPhone is opened it can't be searched without a warrant and if searched that evidence cannot be used in a court of law. This is as you say a bad ruling and flies in the face of the United States Supreme Court ruling and will be easily be overruled if contested despite Judge Steven Fucci attempts to “write” new law

8. The-Sailor-Man

Posts: 1095; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

So it's better to lock your phone with password or pattern, because the police(or criminals) CAN NOT coerce you .

11. Sauce2

Posts: 199; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

One of the best things about my Jailbreak is my killswitch fingerprint made solely because of this court ruling. Once your specifically selected fingerprint is entered (I chose my left middle finger [suiting], as I'm a righty and don't unlock with my left hand) it will wipe all your data on your phone. When the cops force me to unlock my phone with my fingerprint, I will do so, with my middle finger. When they open it, nothing will be there. Voila.

13. The-Sailor-Man

Posts: 1095; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

BS Even with Jailbreak , you can not make the phone to wipe all your data on your phone with only one touch on the scanner. Even if you can , that might wipe all your data on your phone by mistake , when you take it out from the pocket.

17. Sauce2

Posts: 199; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

You are highly uneducated. You can already do this STOCK in iOS with 10 failed attempts. Not going to sit here and argue against a buffoon. Go understand what in-depth jailbreaking is, and not just silly theming/free apps. Lol. You also don't read. For one, I don't put my phone in my left pocket, let alone use it with my left hand. LET ALONE use my middle fingers to unlock my phone. Thumb, Index, and pinky for unlocking encrypted files on my file manager. You wouldn't know these things though. You're just a silly fanboy who doesn't have anything good to say.

20. Awalker

Posts: 1982; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

You're the one sounding like an i-s-h-e-e-p here. He makes a valid point. Someone could mistakenly wipe their phone.

22. Sauce2

Posts: 199; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Calm down buddy. Just showcasing a good thing against this absurd ruling. This is what the article is about right? FP SCANNERS. APPLE. SAMSUNG. etc. Nothing about an "i-s-h-e-e-p" here. Just your perception about something good and turning it into something/someone bad for liking Apple. Get lost lol.

39. The-Sailor-Man

Posts: 1095; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

"You also don't read. For one, I don't put my phone in my left pocket, let alone use it with my left hand." So no way to touch it with the "right" finger by mistake, and delete everything???? LOL Only iboy can use his "brain", the way you did.

41. gregoryyy3 unregistered

"BS Even with Jailbreak , you can not make the phone to wipe all your data on your phone with only one touch on the scanner. Even if you can , that might " you contradicted yourself and sound arrogant.. go back and try again

53. The-Sailor-Man

Posts: 1095; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Nothing "contradicted" here iboy. Do you know the meaning of "Even if....."??????

42. Sauce2

Posts: 199; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

I want to ask you a serious question, health related, but that would result in my proooobabbly getting banned.

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