Federal magistrate judge in Illinois rules that being forced to unlock your phone with a fingerprint could violate your rights


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/24/something-you-have.html


The entire Police / Law Enforcement sector is getting [are] lazy, that’s why they ask for these Rights infringements. The US Constitution makes life hard on them.

Don’t get me started on the average IQ of your run of the mill Police Officer…


Simple solution: use both the fingerprint and a code. The code is not there principally to make it difficult to get access, just to keep the more-secure fingerprint from being legally sufficient.


I am one of those people with unreadable fingerprints, so I can’t use the thumb print option.

FWIW: setting a reasonable (not obvious, but also not “long and strong”) passcode is good enough if you also have your phone set up to wipe clean if it gets into the wrong hands.

I can unlock my phone quicker than someone using their thumb. It’s good enough.


“so you can avoid the whole mess by switching to PINs instead of
fingerprints, though this leaves you with the unhappy tradeoff between a
long, strong passcode and the need to frequently unlock your devices.”

The reason the phone industry has gone all in on using fingerprints is because passcodes are so inconvenient something like 2/3 of phone owners were not locking their phones. Touch ID and whatever the Android equivalent is called has been a huge advance for security, despite all the legal and technical issues with fingerprints, because the alternative for most phone users was no security.


Use a finger other than the index finger. If you are forced to use a fingerprint, use the obvious index fingers and say you have been having trouble with fingerprint unlock The phone doesn’t allow too many failed finger scans before demanding the passcode.


I have 10 finger prints. I know which one of the 10 opens my phone.


Is this an option on iphones?


Touch ID and whatever the Android equivalent is called has been a huge advance for security, despite all the legal and technical issues with fingerprints, because the alternative for most phone users was no security.

Very interesting! A kind of nudging to get people to use security…


Sorry, no clue. OTOH it would be easy to add to any phone that does have fingerprint security, so you can ask Apple.


As a complete legal outsider…I think the Judge makes a great argument…But in a complicated way… there is a very important distinction between demanding a Finger print and demanding a breathalyzer.

A breathalyzer is used to determine one specific thing in regard to a very specific behavior… indicating a very specific crime… A breathalyzer can’t be used to go on a fishing expedition into any behavior other than the drunk driving that is happening at the time…
The relationship between drunk driving and breathalyzers is very clear cut…it is so narrow and well defined that we could think of the power to force breathalyzers as coming from “standing warrant”

A fingerprint, however, opens a device and grants access to a variety and scope of information so great that a warrant could never be issued for it all in a court of law…

So I think this comes down to an indefensible expansion of “good faith exceptions” to the “exclusionary rule,”


Yes, it’s the default behavior. You get… [tries it out] …six fingerprint attempts before it locks to passcode. I could have sworn it was four last time I checked.


Your interesting argument could very well be used to support the retention of breathanalysis (?) at the expense of fingerprintage. But as a fellow legal outsider, I’d wonder if extraction of personal moisture, of personal DNA from swabs -indeed anything like this - is not fair game for consideration. After all, the ‘crimes’ such extractions are supposed to help solve long predate the technologies now used to gather evidence. Somehow, society managed (although I get the impression it may have been more anarchic and lawless, so I’m not on steady ground here). But I keep thinking of those lines from Touch of Evil

Quinlan: Our job is tough enough …
Vargas: It’s supposed to be. It has to be tough. A policeman’s job is only easy in a police state. That’s the whole point, Captain - who’s the boss, the cop or the law?


I thought it was 4 and configurable but a quick look showed me no options (could be elsewhere). My problem is my previous phone had a dead power button so I click home to turn it on instinctively so I can run out of attempts just by looking at stuff on the home screen.


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