US law enforcement agencies are reportedly using the fingerprints of dead people to unlock their iPhones with Touch ID, enabling them to access confidential information for their investigations.
While it's something that has been rumoured in the past, a new report from Forbes reveals some details about the practice from various sources close to the FBI, who have shed some light into how it's done.
Citing people "close to local and federal police investigations" in New York and Ohio, the report claims that it is "relatively common fingerprints of the deceased to be depressed on the scanner of Apple iPhones" adding that there has been times where law enforcement has successfully gained access to a dead person's iPhone.
This could come about when law enforcement is looking for information on a suspect through the victim's phone. For instance, in an overdose case, the victim's phone could contain details "leading directly to the dealer".
So is this legal? Apparently so. According to US law, the police are well within their rights to use the technique, even if there might be some ethical quandaries.
Marina Medvin, owner of Medvin Law, said that once a person is deceased, they no longer have a privacy interest in their dead body. That means they no longer have standing in court to assert privacy rights.
"We do not need a search warrant to get into a victim's phone, unless it's shared owned," said Ohio police homicide detective Robert Cutshall, who worked on the Artan case.
With the introduction of the iPhone X, however, Face ID has also been called into question. Will officers be using dead people's faces to unlock their devices, too?
Marc Rogers, a Cloudfare security researcher suggested that facial recognition technology can also be fooled by "simply using photos of open eyes", so they might not even need to go to the lengths of a mortuary visit.
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