• Henry Park

Can you be forced to unlock your phone with your fingerprint?

On January 10th, a U.S. District Court Judge refused to grant a search warrant that would permit the government to force people to unlock their electronic devices using biometric features (see Court Order, In the Matter of the Search of Residence in Oakland, California, Case 4:19-MJ-70053, dated Jan 10, 2019).

The relevant portion of the Court's Opinion starts with the Fifth Amendment's prohibition against self-incrimination. While technology is changing faster than the law, constitutional rights cannot be minimized because of changing technology. Passcodes cannot be compelled by the government. Biometric features should be treated similarly because they are shortcuts to entering a passcode.

Photo by Koby Kelsey on Unsplash


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