Courts predicted to side with law enforcement on fingerprint warrants for Apple's Touch ID

Posted:
in iPhone
In a select number of cases, authorities have been able to compel courts to force criminal suspects to unlock their Touch ID-equipped iPhone using their fingerprint. That security bypass is likely to continue, legal experts say, because capturing someone's fingerprint is a well-established practice in investigations.




Experts who spoke with Bloomberg suggested it's only a matter of time before a lawsuit is filed over forcing a suspect to unlock their iPhone with their fingerprint. And if and when that does happen, courts are expected to come down on the side of law enforcement.

While entering a password or passcode requires use of a "mental process" that could violate the Fifth Amendment, using someone's fingerprint is not likely to earn the same protection. That's because investigators have long used physical evidence, such as fingerprints or blood, to solve crimes.

Earlier this month, a Los Angeles court ordered a woman to unlock her iPhone with Touch ID in order to aid the FBI in an investigation. The bureau obtained a proper court warrant forcing the suspect to provide her print.




Rahul Gupta, senior deputy district attorney in Orange County, Calif., told Bloomberg he believes it's only a matter of time until a higher court sets precedent on the matter, and likely sides with law enforcement. If that happens, compelling criminals to unlock their iPhone with Touch ID could become more commonplace.

Of course, Touch ID isn't a foolproof way for investigators to get into a user's iPhone -- Apple's own security methods require that users re-enter their passcode if the handset is rebooted or hasn't been unlocked for 48 hours. That means authorities will be forced to work quickly after apprehending a suspect and obtaining their iPhone if they want to unlock it.

The FBI has been managing to crack into some iPhones, most notably the iPhone 5c involved in the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attack. But the iPhone 5c notably does not include Touch ID nor the associated secure enclave, which makes it even tougher to crack.

It's likely the technique used by the FBI to unlock the iPhone 5c in that case would not work with newer models featuring Touch ID and the secure enclave, starting with the iPhone 5s. In those cases, obtaining a warrant for the suspect's fingerprint --?and quickly --?may be the best option.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 527member
    Simple solution is for Apple to allow a single fingers print to wipe the phone.   Similar system should be put in place at ATM's, such that a single incorrect code would lock the account (helpful in cases where individuals are forced to withdraw money).
  • Reply 2 of 32
    eideardeideard Posts: 427member
    Americans - very slowly of course - are beginning to understand what the term "police state" means.
    jbdragonlongpath
  • Reply 3 of 32
    vukasikavukasika Posts: 96member
    This is BS sidestep that forces self-incrementation.  So you have a right not to incriminate yourself and cannot be compelled to give up your password but you can be compelled to give your finger print.  Complete BS.
  • Reply 4 of 32
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    emoeller said:
    Simple solution is for Apple to allow a single fingers print to wipe the phone.   Similar system should be put in place at ATM's, such that a single incorrect code would lock the account (helpful in cases where individuals are forced to withdraw money).
    Too easy to wipe your iPhone that way. Maybe a finger that puts the phone into password mode. That way if you do lock it up accidentally, you can just enter the password to unlock it.

    theres still a problem, because the Police are likely to get wise to that and force you to use the most logical fingers too, not the atypical lock finger. And of course for those who fear being put into that situation, they can use a non-standard finger to unlock their phone and make all others lock fingers, thus complicating their daily use of the iPhone. Oh well, the cost of engaging in criminal activities.

    i do like the poison pill option of making a custom password a wipe password. That way, if the law ever compels entering a password, a wipe password can be entered. Or, if using a hacked brute force method, there's a 50/50 chance they will wipe the phone before they unlock it.
    edited May 2016 longpath
  • Reply 5 of 32
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    This sentence (as written) is incorrect:  

    "While entering a password or passcode requires use of a "mental process" that could violate the Fifth Amendment..."

    Presumably, the author meant "one being forced to enter a password..."?
  • Reply 6 of 32
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,467member
    emoeller said:
    Simple solution is for Apple to allow a single fingers print to wipe the phone.   Similar system should be put in place at ATM's, such that a single incorrect code would lock the account (helpful in cases where individuals are forced to withdraw money).
    Is is also against the law to destroy evidence.
  • Reply 7 of 32
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,467member
    mac_128 said:
    emoeller said:
    Simple solution is for Apple to allow a single fingers print to wipe the phone.   Similar system should be put in place at ATM's, such that a single incorrect code would lock the account (helpful in cases where individuals are forced to withdraw money).
    ...
    i do like the poison pill option of making a custom password a wipe password. That way, if the law ever compels entering a password, a wipe password can be entered. Or, if using a hacked brute force method, there's a 50/50 chance they will wipe the phone before they unlock it.
    See post 6
  • Reply 8 of 32
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,021member
    The word "compel" is charged, and incorrect. Compel means to force, and that isn't what's happening. They're convincing the courts that this is correct.

    the way the courts are handling this is to look at what the Constitutions says in regards to self incrimination. A question that still needs to be answered is whether it's ok to force someone to use their finger to open their device, as opposed to law enforcement obtaining fingerprints in other ways, something that's not nearly as easy to do as these CSI shows pretend.

    so, for example, a warrent may force someone to give up a key, but they may refuse to do so. If so, they may be held in contempt, but that's all. Law enforcement may then break into whatever that key opened. But here, if someone refuses to open the phone there's no precedent that I've heard of that could force that action, just the ruling of contempt.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 9 of 32
    If you're a criminal or planning to be one..don't use Touch ID.
  • Reply 10 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member
    icoco3 said:
    emoeller said:
    Simple solution is for Apple to allow a single fingers print to wipe the phone.   Similar system should be put in place at ATM's, such that a single incorrect code would lock the account (helpful in cases where individuals are forced to withdraw money).
    Is is also against the law to destroy evidence.


    They have to first prove it was evidence. This one usually does not stand up well in court unless the police already establish it was evidence prior to it being destroy. Simply saying they believe it is evidence is not good enough.


    However, does not really matter people have the right to refuse , but they puts them in jail under a contempt of court charge and as long as they refuse they stay in jail. Again the police and judicial system is only making the problem hard for them. The more they bring this stuff to light the more the real criminals will find ways to avoid getting caught like this. They just told all the criminals not to use the finger print id feature to use the password since they all now know the government can not break this method and their is no legal way to get to the information.

  • Reply 11 of 32
    axcess99axcess99 Posts: 46member
    I get how this is a logical extension of having to divulge finger prints, but it also seems substantively different to provide ones finger print for reference and to plant ones fingerprint somewhere for an active purpose.
  • Reply 12 of 32
    kent909kent909 Posts: 730member
    It seems to me the only person that would need to wipe the phone is someone with something incriminating to hide. If I was arrested I would unlock my phone. Why exacerbate the situation. If you were to write down in a notebook the same incriminating information that is in you phone the police could access that with a warrant. So how is the phone any different, other than it can be very difficult to open. This is just really an argument about rights needing to be inclusive of all. The problem only arises when police have a known criminal in custody and unfortunately that criminal has rights just like you and I. We don't need those rights only criminals do. Now if the police break the law and start making people open their phone without just cause, then the police have become the criminals and we need to access the laws that protect us from that. Now we have entered into an entirely different realm and it is now no longer about what it originally started out as. Maybe the stage is being set for the new War on Technology. 
  • Reply 13 of 32
    hungeduhungedu Posts: 15member
    Another solution is for Apple to add a new user passcode feature that sets the iPhone to disable touch ID and require a passcode sooner than 48 hours. Perhaps a 30 minute, 1 hour, 3 hour, 5 hour and 12 hour option?
  • Reply 14 of 32
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 831member
    vukasika said:
    This is BS sidestep that forces self-incrementation.  So you have a right not to incriminate yourself and cannot be compelled to give up your password but you can be compelled to give your finger print.  Complete BS.
    Silly statement. A whole slew of biological information can and is required by the law to be given up in both criminal and civil cases. This is not a new idea, as the court cases even from late 1930's have ruled that way. The question of whether a showing of probably cause in criminal cases is to be required. That must continue to be the case however IMHO.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 15 of 32
    the easy way to avoid having to deal with this is to just not commit crimes. This has and never will have any impact on my life. I don't do anything in the course of my day that would necessitate law enforcement to ever have to look at the contents of my phone.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 16 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,162member
    the easy way to avoid having to deal with this is to just not commit crimes. This has and never will have any impact on my life. I don't do anything in the course of my day that would necessitate law enforcement to ever have to look at the contents of my phone.
    Ditto. I think we have so little to worry about anymore (going hungry, no water, no shelter, unsafe living environment) that we tend to make some things into far more than they actually are. People gotta worry and stress over stuff and if there's nothing truly impacting them then they'll create something to worry about. In general we've become bored with everyday life with fewer and fewer challenges. Life is too easy for a lot of us. Just my .02
    edited May 2016 richdatswho
  • Reply 17 of 32
    repressthisrepressthis Posts: 496member
    I got it! Apple could implement a full system wipe when the iPhone's owner attempts to "unlock" the iPhone with a particular fingerprint or combination of fingerprints. For example: law enforcement forces you to unlock your iPhone, you "comply" and place your middle finger over the Touch ID, which initiates a factory reset that cannot be stopped and the iPhone cannot be powered down until completion. A big FU to the law enforcement from yours truly.
  • Reply 18 of 32
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,388member
    eideard said:
    Americans - very slowly of course - are beginning to understand what the term "police state" means.
    Exactly. Too bad the courts no longer care or understand what the Fifth Amendment specifically blocks.
    longpath
  • Reply 19 of 32
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 831member
    the easy way to avoid having to deal with this is to just not commit crimes. This has and never will have any impact on my life. I don't do anything in the course of my day that would necessitate law enforcement to ever have to look at the contents of my phone.
    The power of the state is such that they can make any activity criminal. The US, like countries we like to refer to as dictatorships, make criminal actions that I hope most of us would agree should not be. Like, being Asian or Japanese in WWII. Or a Jew in Germany, or blasphemy in Saudi Arabian, or taking someone's property without due process and compensation, like taking their slave. Or using the wrong bathroom, if you live in NC. Or, eating at a lunch counter reserved for whites. Indiana just passed a law criminalizing oral sex. How about cohabiting or marrying outside your race? 

    I think you need to look up from your computer and have a little more clue about the real world. 
    jbdragonnolamacguylongpathSpamSandwich
  • Reply 20 of 32
    designrdesignr Posts: 612member
    Actually, Apple has already provided a solution (though it could, possibly, be made simpler) is to just power the phone off. That won't help in every instance. But I would recommend ANYONE (even if you are innocent) to immediately power your phone off when contacted by the police (in person). First, it will prevent access without passcode (which you cannot be compelled to divulge or use). Second, it protects you from "fishing expeditions" for which law enforcement is famous.

    Of course, I would also recommend people never talk to the police at all:  (There are two parts. First is an attorney. Second is a (ex?) cop. You should listen to what he says also. Spoiler Alert: He agrees with the attorney.)
    longpathSpamSandwich
Sign In or Register to comment.