Recently, FBI agents in Ohio entered the home of 28-year-old Grant Michalski, who was suspected of child abuse. With a search warrant in hand, they forced him to put his face in front of the iPhone to unlock it via Face ID facial unlock. They were then able to freely search for his photos, chats and any other potential evidence.
This stems back to a numerous prior federal court decision that held that older fingerprint biometric unlock features could be forced upon suspects. But if the suspect had a PIN code only, the police could not force the suspect to unlock the device.
The 5th Amendment, which protects people from self-incrimination, prevents the government from compelling someone to turn over a PIN or passcode. But fingerprints, like other biometrics such as DNA, handwriting samples, and your likeness, have long been considered fair game because they don’t reveal anything in your mind.
Apple has refused to build in a backdoor into their devices for law enforcement and even combatted such by locking down the charging port from devices (Cellebrite and GrayKey) that could crack the passcode, as well as built in a feature to disable biometric login requiring the PIN code.
On newer iPhones without a home button, users can disable biometrics and require a PIN code by holding the power button and either volume key until a menu pops up and hitting cancel. The user’s PIN code will then be required to gain access. If you are pulled over or stopped by the police, it is recommended that you trigger this function so that you cannot be compelled to unlock your device.
If you have been stopped by the police and charged with a crime, contact our criminal defense attorneys today at 754-900-1529, firstname.lastname@example.org, or the web form to the right of the screen.