The next time a US Police officer forces you to unlock your smartphone using biometric methods such as iris scanner, fingerprint scanner or face unlock, you don’t have to. According to the latest ruling from a federal court in California, US Police cannot force citizens to unlock their phones using face recognition, fingerprints or other types of biometric authentication methods. The ruling was made by Judge Kandis Westmore.
Indeed, this move is considered one of the milestones in the history of user-privacy. Till now, there was no concrete ways to prevent how the police force can intrude into the digital life of a citizen. In fact, there were many scenarios where the suspects were forced to provide their fingerprint or other forms of biometric for the police to open up the smartphone and look for digital activities.
Now, the new ruling has been made in light of an investigation, during which the investigating officers forced the suspects to provide biometric and raided their devices. While justifying the investigators’ need to raid a device, the court disapproved of the method of forcing the testimony. It is after this incident that the court ruled that US Police cannot force biometric authentication methods on suspects’ devices.
The court added that such a compulsion would be in violation of the Fifth Amendment Protections against self-incrimination. Till now, the use of biological features to unlock electronic devices was not included in the system, since many courts had said that these features cannot be considered as an actual testimony. She also added a few comments on the same.
“Testimony is not restricted to verbal or written communications. If a person cannot be compelled to provide a passcode because it is a testimonial communication, a person cannot be compelled to provide one’s finger, thumb, iris, face, or other biometric feature to unlock that same device,” the judge was quoted saying.