A Dallas, Texas man accused of prostituting underage girls was secretly ordered by a federal judge to unlock his iPhone using his fingerprint, according to federal court documents that are now unsealed.
It’s rare that we see a case demanding that a phone be unlocked in that manner, but we should expect more as the mainstream public begins embracing fingerprint technology. Ever since 2013, when Apple popularized this form of unlocking technology, legal experts have predicted that these types of government demands would slowly become more common. Experts also warned these demands are probably not a breach of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination.
As an aside, some courts don’t necessarily think that compelling a suspect to reveal their computer passcode is a constitutional violation. A Philadelphia man accused of possessing child pornography has been behind bars on a contempt charge for more than seven months for refusing to divulge his password. The man’s attorney claims it’s a constitutional violation to compel his client to assist the authorities with their prosecution. A federal appeals court has tentatively agreed to hear the case in September as the suspect (who has not been charged with a crime) remains in prison.
The Dallas fingerprinting issue involving Martavious Banks Keys was first unearthed by Forbes. The Keys prosecution paints a picture of greed and cruelty, but it also highlights how far the authorities are willing to go to obtain encrypted material on locked mobile phones.
Even so, the government’s efforts in this instance were not successful, according to court documents. The authorities were unable to access the phone’s contents. The reason is most likely because, if a …