Resized PasscodeTime

Criminals should protect their iPhones with a passcode, not Touch ID, as a Virginia District Court has determined that passcodes are protected under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution while fingerprints are not, according to a report Friday by Hampton Roads.

The Fifth Amendment protects citizens from self-incrimination so a phone is protected under the law because otherwise it would require a defendant to divulge knowledge. Put simply, a Circuit Court judge has ruled that a criminal defendant can be compelled to reveal their fingerprint but not the passcode, so that police could search their mobile phone.

The ruling was made in the case of Emergency Medical Services captain David Baust who got charged earlier this year with trying to strangle his girlfriend.

Prosecutors wanted a judge to force Baust to unlock his phone, which they thought contained footage from the camera in Baust’s bedroom where he fought his girlfriend.

Baust’s attorney James Broccoletti said that phone passcodes are protected by the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits forced self-incrimination.

Judge Steven C. Frucci sided with Broccoletti. A phone passcode, he ruled, requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which the law protects against.

iPhone 6 space gray Touch ID

As for fingerprints, the judge likened forcing a defendant to unlock the device using their finger to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key, which the law permits.

But what if a phone is protected with both a passcode and fingerprint data, like the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus? In that case, the phone would remain locked under Frucci’s ruling (though an appeal is possible).

What’s your take on this interesting topic?

Should a warrant be upheld no matter what? And is this a groundless ruling that will only serve to protect criminals, do you think?

[Hampton Roads via AppAdvice]

  • Buzz { Light:Year; }

    I think its perfect. Phones are private and meant to be that way

    • Antzboogie

      I’m very happy with this ruling. The government is being fair on this one your fingerprint you can’t defend but a passcode I agree is off limits. The law was so used to doing things without a warrant and companies like Apple and Google are defending us thank you for that and thank you for this ruling.

  • Micky Ganon

    Stupid law
    Suppose that someone kidnapping a little girl, and the information where she is .its on his phone, so you can not do anything to him

    • White Michael Jackson

      What if the information isnt on phone? This is a warrant is needed.

    • Antzboogie

      Suppose they weren’t and they invade your privacy for no reason. Enjoyed being probed everywhere.

  • Lol

    Lol WTF? Protect people from self-incrimination? America sure is stupid.

    • Antzboogie

      America is fair and your comment is stupid. It’s called Privacy something that America home of the free has not been giving us lately thanks to the NSA. Thank you God for Snowden!!

  • RarestName

    This is incredibly inefficient.

  • Anonymous

    This touchy is issue, and the question is where do you draw the line. I do believe that you should not have to provid information that is self Incriminating evidence, but then again where talking murrder here, or as a fellow idb peer said a stole child. Both side make for compelling arguments.

    • andyr354

      Think of it this way. What if the authorities thought you were involved and to mirror this they could just walk in and dig through your house if they wanted to with no reason needed?

      • Anonymous

        Oh I agree with you. Cops are not above nor are they the law. And for good reason, YouTube has many examples. I simply was just stating this is a heated topics and both sides can make compelling arguments. However, if I am to state my personal poison on the matter, I do feel that, that is an invasion of privacy, and is wrong. And the police should use appropriate tactics.

  • Jake Dai

    Just let you know’ the latest pangu tool has came out!

    • Jonathan Elliott

      Thankz 4 the headz up.

  • Slacker

    I’m sorry, but the U.S. Justice system is phucked. Semantics being used to defeat privacy laws in their entirety? What a phucking joke.

  • zoltantroll

    Just shut the phone off when the cops come a knocking and then touch ID won’t work until you enter in your passcode 😉

  • JoshuaHulgan

    Criminals – turn phone off. Touch ID requires passcode on start up.

  • Easy.Yves.Saint

    Phone seizure? Remote wipe.

  • iBanks

    Damn… My hometown.

  • Bugs Bunnay

    This is where jail breaking comes in. Activator (or another tweak) will recognize the finger you’ve set it to activate at the unlock screen to enable password protect on the apps you choose.