Police using fingerprints of dead suspects to unlock Apple iPhones

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 22
While there have been some failures, U.S. law enforcement agencies have indeed used the fingers of corpses to unlock iPhones and obtain evidence, a report revealed on Thursday.




Efforts are said to date back to at least November 2016, when the FBI tried to use the finger of Ohio State University attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan to unlock his iPhone 5s, FBI forensics specialist Bob Moledor told Forbes. That didn't work, since by the time legal authority had been obtained, Touch ID was disabled without re-entering a passcode. Data was later retrieved with the help of a forensics lab.

Sources described as "close to local and federal police investigations" in New York and Ohio said that it has since become common to use the fingers of dead bodies to try and unlock iPhones, for instance in overdose cases where a device might have the number of a drug dealer. At least some attempts have been successful.

At the moment, U.S. law allows iPhones to be unlocked with dead fingers without obtaining a warrant, unless someone else has ownership of a phone as well.

Courts have ruled back and forth on the legal issues surrounding Touch ID. The topic of dead bodies came to the forefront with last year's Sutherland Springs massacre, since police could conceivably have used the shooter's fingers to gain access to his iPhone during a critical 48-hour window.

It's unknown whether U.S. police have tried to unlock an iPhone X using Face ID. A Cloudflare security researcher, Marc Rogers, argued however that it may be possible to unlock an X despite Face ID's attention detection feature -- it's even possible to use photos, Rogers said. Apple's marketing has insisted that it can't be so easily deceived.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    davendaven Posts: 459member
    That only works if you have fingerprint unlocking setup. If you stick with the six digit passcode, it becomes a lot harder.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 23
    ... Once Physical Security is breached...  it's only a matter of time....

    I mean, if they have my phone and my finger... it doesn't take long to get the phone unlocked.
    Key trick is to 'click 5 times' before you die or get apprehended....  
    [If you don't,  this scenario is would be in play]



    This will be a question to ask in about 2 years (when 30% of the people will likely be using FaceID).... Can FaceID be tricked to work with Cadavers?
    and after that... Can iOS require Apple Watch to get a 'matching pulse' before allowing Biometric unlock of a device? 
    edited March 22
  • Reply 3 of 23
    macguimacgui Posts: 807member
    daven said:
    That only works if you have fingerprint unlocking setup. If you stick with the six digit passcode, it becomes a lot harder.
    No shit?
    Soli
  • Reply 4 of 23
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,510member
    daven said:
    That only works if you have fingerprint unlocking setup. If you stick with the six digit passcode, it becomes a lot harder.
    Thank you captain obvious!
    Soliracerhomie3watto_cobraravnorodommike1
  • Reply 5 of 23
    Keep diggin watson 🕵️‍♀️ 🕵️‍♂️ 
  • Reply 6 of 23
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 177member
    Face ID only unlocks if eyes are detected. 

    So there’s that. 
    racerhomie3watto_cobraairnerd
  • Reply 7 of 23
    You know, if I'm dead I'm not going to worry too much about whether the police access my phone.
    pscooter63mwhiteentropysmavemufcmike1airnerddarren mccoygregg thurmanSpamSandwichRoyfb
  • Reply 8 of 23
    tomowatomowa Posts: 1member
    Might all the contacts you have in your iPhone care, that their information is then disseminated, without their permission, or even knowledge?
    watto_cobraairnerd
  • Reply 9 of 23
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 177member
    Actually were I to be discovered deceased I’d like for the police to be able to access my information. Likely my iPhone would be more helpful than my wallet for ICE contacts. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 23
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,945member
    tomowa said:
    Might all the contacts you have in your iPhone care, that their information is then disseminated, without their permission, or even knowledge?
    If your contacts have Facebook accounts then they probably don’t care. 
    geekmeewatto_cobramike1
  • Reply 11 of 23
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 263member
    Uh, Since there dead... I don’t really think they are worried about it.
    gregg thurman
  • Reply 12 of 23
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 263member
    Uh sorry...missed that earlier comment.
  • Reply 13 of 23
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,163member
    You know, if I'm dead I'm not going to worry too much about whether the police access my phone.
    Yeah but I don’t want anyone to find out where I buried all the gold.
    watto_cobraSpamSandwich
  • Reply 14 of 23
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    You have the right to remain silent...
  • Reply 15 of 23
    macxpress said:
    daven said:
    That only works if you have fingerprint unlocking setup. If you stick with the six digit passcode, it becomes a lot harder.
    Thank you captain obvious!
    Sorry, I can't help it. What Captain Obvious would've said:
    "Fingerprint works if your iPhone has fingerprint sensor"
    "Four digit numbers don't work on six digit passcode"
    edited March 23
  • Reply 16 of 23
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 809member
  • Reply 17 of 23
    I was at the grocery store yesterday and I noticed they were out of tinfoil. 
    SpamSandwichmknelsonlostkiwi
  • Reply 18 of 23
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,541member
    I was at the grocery store yesterday and I noticed they were out of tinfoil. 
    Whatever will we use to make our hats?
    buzdots
  • Reply 19 of 23
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 215member
    JFC_PA said:
    Actually were I to be discovered deceased I’d like for the police to be able to access my information. Likely my iPhone would be more helpful than my wallet for ICE contacts. 
    In Case of Emergency?

    I thought you wanted your corpse deported!
    buzdots
  • Reply 20 of 23
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,547member
    Does police need a warrant to unlock my house when they find my keys on my dead body? I'm assuming it's the same idea. 
    buzdots
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