Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Police Can Demand a Suspect Unlock a Phone with a Fingerprint

Do you have an iPhone that can be unlocked with your fingerprint? Don’t put anything on that phone should remain private!

A Virginia Circuit Court judge ruled on Thursday that a person does not need to provide a passcode to unlock their phone for the police. The court also ruled that demanding a suspect to provide a fingerprint to unlock a phone would be constitutional.

Huh? How’s that? If my phone is locked with a passcode I don’t have to unlock it or tell police the code? But if it is locked with a fingerprint I have to place my finger on the reader when asked? I’m sorry, but I don’t see the logic in that argument.

The solution? If you’re detained, reset your iOS device (hold the Home and Power button for a few seconds) before you have to hand it over. Touch ID doesn’t work on the first boot. Of course, that will only work if you have a few seconds available when the police are not watching you and your phone.

Luckily, it is also possible for users to completely turn TouchID unlocking off and simply use a passcode, and Apple has provided certain extra protections to prevent TouchID privacy issues.

Excuse me, but I have to go disable my TouchID. In the meantime, you can read about this ruling in an article by Megan Geuss in the Ars Technica web site at

Categories: Cell Phones

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