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Police can’t force you to unlock your phone with face or finger

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Hey, hey, there’s actually some good news for privacy! A judge in California ruled that feds can’t force people to unlock their smartphones with a finger or thumbprint, facial recognition, or even an iris. Although the government had shown probable cause to search a property in Oakland, California, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore said the government’s expectation to seize all devices and force people at the house to unlock them with their biometrics “runs afoul of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.”

“The challenge facing the courts is that technology is outpacing the law,” Judge Westmore wrote. The government’s request to force the unlocking of all biometrically-locked devices at the property was “overbroad.” She added, “The Government cannot be permitted to search and seize a mobile phone or other device that is on a non-suspect’s person simply because they are present during an otherwise lawful search.”

Westmore ruled:

“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 wrote.

“The undersigned finds that a biometric feature is analogous to the 20 nonverbal, physiological responses elicited during a polygraph test, which are used to determine guilt or innocence, and are considered testimonial.”

Other cybersecurity news

Hackers can exploit flaws to remotely take control of industrial machinery

Trend Micro discovered flaws and vulnerabilities in radio frequency (RF) remote controllers “can be (easily) taken advantage of to move full-sized machines such as cranes used in construction sites and factories.” The company confirmed that attackers can remotely manipulate connected industrial equipment deployed at construction sites, factories, and transportation businesses.

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