FBI wants to use dead terrorist's fingerprints to open his iPhone

FBI wants to use dead terrorist's fingerprints to open his iPhone
The court battle between federal law enforcement officials and Apple has taken a turn to the morbid. Apple has been unwilling to create a version of iOS that would allow the FBI to unlock the Apple iPhone 5c belonging to deceased terrorist Syed Farook. Apple is being asked to override or block the auto-erase feature that automatically wipes an iPhone after ten incorrect passcode guesses. The FBI believes that there is important information on the handset, including possible terrorist connections that Farook and his Wife made prior to the December 2nd attack in San Bernardino that left 14 dead (not including the two terrorists who were cut down in a hail of police bullets).

Other information on the phone could point to possible targets. It is this information that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump cited as a reason why the phone should be unlocked. But as Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed out yesterday, such software does not exist and if it were to be created, it could end up in the wrong hands which would threaten the privacy and security of every iPhone user.

Desperate, the FBI is considering the use of fingerprints from Farook's corpse as a way to open his phone. Legally, it is easier to obtain fingerprint evidence than a password. Not only is there already precedent when it comes to courts compelling the production of fingerprints, dead people like Farook have no 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search or seizure.

Any issue would be on the technical side since the phone that the terrorist received from his employer, the Apple iPhone 5c, does not come with the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. And even if a scanner could be used on the device, the process would have to be done rather quickly since iOS allows a fingerprint unlocked iPhone just 48 hours to be unlocked via a passcode.

One former NSA employee by the name of Patrick Wardle, told Forbes that the FBI can look back at their own past attempts to break into an iPhone to see if anything could be done to unlock Farook's unit. He suggested that a USB exploit could be found that would help the feds get the info they seek.

Apple has received support for its stance from Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other tech firms as well. Meanwhile, Apple says it is planning on appealing the court order.

source: Forbes

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