Suspect is ordered to unlock iPhone
25 July 2016 08:13 GMT

In another case of the US courts facing complications in terms of biometrics and smartphones, a Dallas man accused of prostituting girls has been ordered by a federal judge to unlock his iPhone with his fingerprint.

Federal court documents that are now unsealed showed that the judge secretly told Accused Dallas pimp Martavious Banks Keys to unlock his iPhone to gain access to his contact, images and whereabouts, reported Forbes.

The police had little option other than to order the biometrics access – under US law suspects do not need to divulge their passcode, but fingerprints can be taken under certain circumstances.

”Beginning with the release of iOS 8 … in September, 2014, Apple no longer has a key to decrypt these devices. Thus, even with a properly authorized search warrant to gain access to the content of an iOS device, there is no feasible way for the government to search the device,” wrote assistant U.S. Attorney Cara Pierce in a formal request to the judge in the case.

A ruling in 2014 by an American judge declared it legal to use criminal suspects’ fingerprints to open up smartphones – as opposed to a passcode. Circuit Court Judge Steven C Frucci ruled that, similar to DNA or handwriting, defendants in criminal cases can be forced to submit their fingerprints to unlock mobile devices. Passcodes and passwords are still protected by the Fifth Amendment.

Unfortunately, however, after 48 hours without use an iPhone requires that a fingerprint and a passcode be used, meaning that the suspect could still refuse the “search warrant” for the device.

In March, An LAPD detective was permitted to use a suspect's finger to unlock their iPhone, according to a warrant.