The battle between the FBI and Apple about the encryption of a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone is not finished yet. But the federal agents are starting a different fight.
Recently a judge in Los Angeles granted FBI a warrant that would compel the girlfriend of a supposed member of Armenian gang to provide her fingerprint so the law enforcement could access her iPhone, which is locked using Apple’s TouchID system.
Forty-five minutes (45) after the US magistrate signed off on the warrant, the girl’s fingerprint was obtained allowing the FBI to access the data on the smartphone.
This case raised another legality issue as it forces someone to provide her biometric information in a self-incriminating act. It’s something that could be considered as unconstitutional based on the 5th Amendment.
The device may have a vast treasure of data that the law enforcement has no right to obtain.
This issue raises questions of how far can someone be compelled to provide his/her biometric data, which would include hair, DNA, and fingerprints. As stated in the Naked Security:
“It isn’t about fingerprints and the biometric readers. [It’s about] the contents of that phone, much of which will be about her, and a lot of that could be incriminating.”
The 5th Amendment Rights
Some legal experts would consider such issue as a breach of the 5th Amendment Rights while others would disagree because fingerprints are part of us. Pressing fingers to a device won’t force us to reveal anything that we know. That said, it won’t count as a testimony against ourselves as explained in the Naked Security.
Why authorities wanted that iPhone?
As reported by the LA Times:
“Why authorities wanted Bkhchadzhyan to unlock the phone is unclear. The phone was seized from a Glendale residence linked to Sevak Mesrobian, who according to a probation report was Bkhchadzhyan’s boyfriend and a member of the Armenian Power gang with the moniker of “40.”
So, should we still secure our phone with a fingerprint?
Since the FBI could require a suspect to unlock a device using his/her fingerprint, we may better rely on our numerical digits.
Fingerprint scanners are convenient when they do work. On iPhone, it works 99 percent of the time. The fingerprint security system makes it easier to purchase goods and pay for items without reaching our wallet. But it does carry its own security risks.
Now, it’s only just a matter of time before someone could figure out how to hack our biometric information. What are we going to do when that happens? Should we burn our fingerprints off?
Truly, in this modern Internet age, nothing is secure. With all the reported data breaches, it’s foolish not to expect that something different will happen because fingerprints are already involved.
Police can compel someone to unlock his/her phone using his/her fingerprint as it doesn’t require that person to divulge information. That’s because a fingerprint is just part of his/her body.
That said, it’s best to keep our smartphone secure using a passcode. However, if you want convenience, then by all means use your fingerprint.