Can the Police Force You to Unlock Your iPhone?

Can the Police Force You to Unlock Your iPhone?

In 2013, Apple revealed that the next iPhone would feature Touch ID technology. This innovative technology gave iPhone owners the power to unlock their phone with their fingerprints as opposed to a unique four-digit pin. At the time, many people believed that Touch ID technology would help iPhone owners protect their privacy. But, this may not be the case for people who are involved in criminal investigations. Can the police force you to unlock your iPhone if you are under investigation? Here’s what you should know:

How Touch ID Technology is Treated in Court

In 2016, a federal judge in California signed off on a search warrant that allowed law enforcement officers to force a woman to use her fingerprint to unlock her iPhone. This was the first known search warrant that authorized law enforcement to force a suspect to unlock their iPhone with their fingerprint. However, it was not the first time the issue was brought to court. In 2014, a judge in Virginia also ruled that law enforcement officers have the authority to force someone to unlock an iPhone protected by their fingerprint.

Touch ID Technology vs. Pin Protection

Before giving law enforcement officers the power to unlock a phone, the court must know how the phone is being protected. Based on previous court rulings, it’s safe to say that the court will allow law enforcement officers to force you to unlock your phone if it is protected by a fingerprint. However, the ruling may be different if the phone is protected by a pin passcode instead.

The Fifth Amendment protects people from self-incrimination. Because of this amendment, law enforcement officers are not allowed to ask someone to unlock their iPhone if it is protected by a pin passcode. In the eyes of the law, asking someone for their pin number is a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights. But, the Fifth Amendment does not apply to biometric indicators such as fingerprints or DNA samples. This means it is not considered a violation of your Fifth Amendment rights to force you to unlock a phone that is solely protected by Touch ID technology.

If you have an iPhone, keep this in mind when deciding the best way for you to protect your privacy.

If you are wrapped up in a criminal investigation, contact Reisch Law Firm at once. Our criminal defense attorneys will ensure law enforcement does not violate any of your constitutional rights. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

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