Fingerprints, Security, and the Law

In October of 2013, I wrote a post titled, Device Security: Fingerprints vs Passwords. That post was published about a month after Apple released the iPhone 5S, the first device with Touch ID.

In the post I argued that the choice between password and fingerprint was about optimizing for a particular type of data thief.

On the subject of the police, I stated, “It takes a massive amount of legal proceedings for the police to compel a person to turn over their password.” When it came to fingerprints I argued, “The police can compel you to turn over your fingerprints. There isn’t enough legal precedent to ensure protection from the authorities.

Since publishing this, I have on more than a few occasions been accused of wearing a tin foil hat.

Well my friends, the police are in fact compelling US citizens to use their fingerprints to unlock their phones in cases where they would not be allowed to compel a person to turn over their passwords.

In this particular instance, it sucks to be correct.

If we don’t defend our civil liberties, then the freedoms that make this country worth defending will wither away.

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