“A child abuse investigation unearthed by Forbes includes the first known case in which law enforcement used Apple Face ID facial recognition technology to open a suspect’s iPhone,” Thomas Brewster reports for Forbes. “That’s by any police agency anywhere in the world, not just in America.”

“It happened on August 10, when the FBI searched the house of 28-year-old Grant Michalski, a Columbus, Ohio, resident who would later that month be charged with receiving and possessing child pornography,” Brewster reports. “With a search warrant in hand, a federal investigator [David Knight] told Michalski to put his face in front of the phone, which he duly did.”

“The case marks another significant moment in the ongoing battle between law enforcement and tech providers, with the former trying to break the myriad security protections put in place by the latter,” Brewster reports. “Whilst Knight may’ve found some evidence of criminal activity when he manually searched the device, in one respect the forced Face ID unlock of the iPhone X was a failure. It wasn’t possible to siphon off all the data within using forensic technologies. That was because the passcode was unknown… It appears Knight didn’t keep the device open long enough and so couldn’t start pulling out data with forensic kits. He admitted he wasn’t able to get all the information he wanted, including app use and deleted files. What Knight did get he documented by taking pictures.”

“Thus far, there’s been no challenge to the use of Face ID in this case or others. But Fred Jennings, a senior associate at Tor Ekeland Law, said they could come thanks to the Fifth Amendment, which promises to protect individuals from incriminating themselves in cases,” Brewster reports. “In previous rulings, suspects have been allowed to decline to hand over passcodes, because the forfeiture of such knowledge would amount to self-incrimination. But because the body hasn’t been deemed a piece of knowledge, the same rulings haven’t been applied to biometric information, like fingerprints or face scans. That’s despite the fact that the use of passcodes, fingerprints and faces on an iPhone has the same effect in each case: unlocking the device.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We need actual laws here, or precedent set, to arrive at a uniform standard of justice.

Regardless, at the core of the issue is the U.S. Constitution:

AMENDMENT V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sometimes the law gets too cute. We shouldn’t leave common sense out of the equation. The process is the same thing. You’re getting access to someone’s most private information by forcing someone to give you the key. — Miami defense attorney David Oscar Markus, May 2016

Ultimately… the U.S. Supreme Court will likely have to weigh in on this issue.MacDailyNews, May 4, 2017

SEE ALSO:
Apple’s ‘cop button’ won’t keep your iPhone safe from the police – August 18, 2017
Florida man sentenced to 180 days in jail for not divulging his iPhone passcode – May 31, 2017
Florida judge orders reality TV actress to unlock Apple iPhone in ‘sextortion’ case – May 4, 2017
Miami sextortion case asks if a suspect can be forced to hand over Apple iPhone password – April 28, 2017
Feckless FBI unable to unlock iPhone, even with a ‘fingerprint unlock warrant’ – May 12, 2016
The Touch ID lock on your iPhone isn’t cop-proof – May 11, 2016
U.S. government wants your fingerprints to unlock your phone – May 1, 2016
Should you disable Touch ID for your own security? – May 9, 2016
U.S. government wants your fingerprints to unlock your phone – May 1, 2016
Virginia police can now force you to unlock your smartphone with your fingerprint – October 31, 2014
Apple’s Touch ID may mean U.S. iPhone 5s users can’t ‘take the fifth’ – September 12, 2013
Apple’s iPhone 5S with biometric identification: Big Brother’s dream? – September 11, 2013