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Virginia District Court Rules Fingerprints Used for Touch ID Aren’t Covered by 5th Amendment

Virginia District Court Rules Fingerprints Used for Touch ID Aren’t Covered by 5th Amendment

Yes, Touch ID is a convenient way for use to unlock our iPhones, but if you’re planning on committing any crimes, just know that you might want to stick to the tried-and-true passcode to unlock your device.

Touch ID


A Virginia District Court has ruled that while phone passcodes are protected by the 5th Amendment, which says that those accused of crimes cannot be compelled to incriminate themselves, there is no such protection against using a suspect’s fingerprint to unlock a phone …

The ruling was reported by Hampton Roads in the case of David Baust, an EMS captain accused of trying to strangle his girlfriend.

Prosecutors believed that the video equipment in Baust’s bedroom may have recorded the couple’s fight, and that the video could possibly be stored on Faust’s phone. They asked a judge to force Baust to unlock his phone, however his attorney argued that passcodes are protected by the 5th amendment, which prohibits authorities from forcing you to incriminate yourself.

Judge Steven C. Frucci ruled this week that while a passcode is protected under the law, because it requires a defendant to divulge knowledge, giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing DNA, a handwriting sample, or an actual key, which is permitted by the law.

The ruling will almost assuredly be appealed, and possibly overturned, but for now, it looks like passcodes are the way to go for the criminally inclined. Another piece of advice, if you’re going to attempt to murder someone, don’t record it on video…

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