“As the world watched the FBI spar with Apple this winter in an attempt to hack into a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, federal officials were quietly waging a different encryption battle in a Los Angeles courtroom,” Matt Hamilton and Richard Winton report for The Los Angeles Times.

“There, authorities obtained a search warrant compelling the girlfriend of an alleged Armenian gang member to press her finger against an iPhone that had been seized from a Glendale home,” Hamilton and Winton report. “The phone contained Apple’s fingerprint identification system for unlocking, and prosecutors wanted access to the data inside it.”

“The Glendale case and others like it are forcing courts to address a basic question: How far can the government go to obtain biometric markers such as fingerprints and hair?” Hamilton and Winton report. “The U.S. Supreme Court has held that police can search phones with a valid warrant and compel a person in custody to provide physical evidence such as fingerprints without a judge’s permission. But some legal experts say there should be a higher bar for biometric data because providing a fingerprint to open a digital device gives the state access to a vast trove of personal information and could be a form of self-incrimination.”

“Apple’s fingerprint sensor, known as Touch ID, is installed on phones and tablets rolled out after 2013, and the optional feature has a narrow window during which it is viable for an investigator. The Touch ID biometric reader cannot be used if the phone has not been unlocked for 48 hours. If a phone is restarted, or goes beyond the 48-hour window, only a passcode can open it,” Hamilton and Winton report. “Few courts have taken up the issue of whether a defendant can be forced to unlock his or her iPhone, either with a password or fingerprint.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

You carry forever the fingerprint that comes from being under someone’s thumb. — Nancy Banks-Smith