U.S. law enforcement agencies are using the fingers of corpses to use Touch ID to unlock the deceased’s iPhones in order to obtain evidence. However, the unlocking attempts haven’t always been successful.
In November 2016, around seven hours after Abdul Razak Ali Artan had mowed down a group of people in his car, gone on a stabbing spree with a butcher’s knife and been shot dead by a police officer on the grounds of Ohio State University, an FBI agent applied the bloodied body’s index finger to the iPhone found on the deceased. The cops hoped it would help them access the Apple device to learn more about the assailant’s motives and Artan himself.
The attempt didn’t work, as by the time the FBI had received permission to make the attempt, Touch ID had automatically been disabled in lieu of entering a passcode.
Forbes’ sources, which are described as “close to local and federal police investigations” in New York and Ohio told the publication it has become a common thing for authorities to attempt to unlock an iPhone using a deceased’s fingerprints.
Where Moledor’s attempt failed, others have succeeded. Separate sources close to local and federal police investigations in New York and Ohio, who asked to remain anonymous as they weren’t authorized to speak on record, said it was now relatively common for fingerprints of the deceased to be depressed on the scanner of Apple iPhones, devices which have been wrapped up in increasingly powerful encryption over recent years. For instance, the technique has been used in overdose cases, said one source. In such instances, the victim’s phone could contain information leading directly to the dealer.
U.S. law currently allows law enforcement members to unlock an iPhone using the cold, dead fingers of formerly breathing iPhone owners without requiring a warrant, unless a living party shares ownership of the device.
The Forbes report indicates police are looking into using Face ID to unlock iPhone X devices belong to the previously living. However, it isn’t know whether or not any attempts have been successful.