The procedure has been used for a couple of years now according to a Forbes report. The procedure has varying levels of success and is deemed legal.
Law enforcement agencies in the United States have always desired ways to stay a step ahead of criminals. With the inventions of tech devices, they have had to find ways to unlock suspects devices when they are unwilling. Now it seems, they have found a new way to do this. The police in the US have started to use dead people’s fingerprints to unlock iPhones.
The law enforcement agencies are believed to have just started the unusual practice just recently. However, Forbes magazine refutes the claim and reported that the procedure has been in place for some few years now. The firm confirmed that the practice was viewed normal and common in the police circles. The practice was especially used in the New York and Ohio State.
Is it legal?
The report that Forbes did on the issue showed that the procedure was considered to be perfectly legal. They used two grounds and issues that the matter could be deemed legal. Legal consultant, Marina Medvin, explained the situation about the procedure. In the first instance, no rights are being violated because dead people don’t have any privacy rights. At the same time, it also puts anyone who sent information to the deceased not have any privacy over that information.
A forensics expert over at the FBI, Bob Moledor, the first case of such a procedure was undertaken back in Nov 2016. The police were trying to unlock the phone of one, Abdul Razak Ali Artan. The suspect had gone on a knife-wielding and stabbing parade. Artan was using a butcher’s knife. He had mowed down people with his car before he eventually got shot by the police. He ended up on the Ohio State University grounds.
However, the fingerprints of the lifeless body could not unlock the phone. The police had to send the phone over to the forensic labs for them to be able to get anything from the device. Moledor noted that between the time period that the police were filing paperwork and his death, the iPhone had gone to sleep. When required for use again, the phone requested for a passcode, which they did not have.
Robert Cutshall, an Ohio police homicide detective, noted that police don’t require a search warrant to search victims phones. Only in cases when the device is shared owned do they not have authority. Cutshall was part of the team that handled the Artan case. The procedure has been used in several cases with varying levels of success. The difference maker is the time period which is wasted in most cases. In the Artan case, seven hours passed before they wanted to use the phone again.
However, with Apple introducing the Face ID unlocking procedure on their latest phones, the method might soon be outdated. Apple claims the new technology is hard to spoof, meaning the agencies have to get back to the drawing board. The technology needs a user to do a live gaze to authenticate the user.