The government wants your fingerprint to unlock your phone

The government wants your fingerprint to unlock your phone

As the world watched the FBI spar with Apple this winter in an attempt to hack into a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, federal officials were quietly waging a different encryption battle in a Los Angeles courtroom.

There, authorities obtained a search warrant compelling the girlfriend of an alleged Armenian gang member to press her finger against an iPhone that had been seized from a Glendale home. The phone contained Apple’s fingerprint identification system for unlocking, and prosecutors wanted access to the data inside it.

It marked a rare time that prosecutors have demanded a person provide a fingerprint to open a computer, but experts expect such cases to become more common as cracking digital security becomes a larger part of law enforcement work.

The Glendale case and others like it are forcing courts to address a basic question: How far can the government go to obtain biometric markers such as fingerprints and hair?

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