Saturday, 19 October, 2019

US Law Enforcement Using Fingerprints of Dead Suspects to Unlock iPhones

Touch ID on iPhone The fingerprints of the dead can be used with Touch ID
Sandra Phillips | 24 March, 2018, 10:38

If you have been wondering about the legal implications of unlocking a dead person's iPhone, it seems that there are none, at least as far as law enforcement is concerned.

Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic specialist Bob Moledor described an unsuccessful attempt to use the fingerprint of deceased Ohio State University attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan to unlock his iPhone.

In the hours between his death and the attempt to unlock, when the feds had to go through legal processes regarding access to the smartphone, the iPhone had gone to sleep and when reopened required a passcode, Moledor said. Forbes cites sources that talked off the record about separate cases in NY and OH where fingerprints of the deceased did unlock iPhones for authorities.

This could come about when law enforcement is looking for information on a suspect through the victim's phone.

Apparently so. According to United States law, the police are well within their rights to use the technique, even if there might be some ethical quandaries.

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In some cases this has been successfully used, while others not so much simply due to the time passing in between. Marina Medvin, owner of Medvin Law, said "Once you share information with someone, you lose control over how that information is protected and used". This means that if police take too long, the window to use Touch ID has passed and they basically can not unlock the device.

Robert Cutshall, an OH police homicide detective who worked on the Artan case said that police is aware too.

Ultimately, Rogers says there haven't yet been any cases of police unlocking a person's iPhone with Face ID, though he suspects it will eventually be used the same way that Touch ID is used now.

The Apple iPhone has become so common with both upstanding citizens and nefarious criminals that law enforcement frequently is faced with trying to unlock the devices of people who are suspects in crimes to gather evidence.

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