Police in Norway to force suspect to unlock smartphone with his fingerprint

February 10, 2016 - 

Nordhordland District Court in Norway is allowing Norwegian police to force a man under police investigation to unlock his smartphone with his fingerprint, according to a report by MacRumors.

Police in Norway recently went to court to force a 27-year-old drug suspect to unlock his smartphone using the mobile device`s embedded fingerprint reader in order to secure evidence for their case.

According to local media reports, police believe the phone contains evidence about where he obtained the drugs that he is accused of possessing but the man has refused to unlock his mobile device so the district court is allowing police to use force to unlock it using his fingerprint.

However, as MacRumors points out, the situation could become problematic for police who only have legal permission to take the accused’s fingerprint. If the device is an iPhone, Touch ID requires a passcode for back-up verification after 48 hours of disuse, a restart, or three failed fingerprint entry attempts.

In the United States in 2014, a Virginia criminal court case saw a judge rule that a criminal defendant can be forced to provide authorities with their fingerprint to allow police to open and search their cellphone because it is similar to having to provide a DNA or handwriting sample, which are permitted by law. However, an individual’s passcode is considered knowledge or “testimonial”, which an individual cannot be forced to reveal because the Fifth Amendment prohibits forced self-incrimination.

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About Stephen Mayhew

Stephen Mayhew is the publisher and co-founder of Biometrics Research Group, Inc.. His experience includes a mix of entrepreneurship, brand development and publishing. Stephen attended Carleton University and lives in Toronto, Canada. Connect with Stephen on LinkindIn.