Can a Police Officer Ask Me to Log on to My Phone?

Apple just released its highly awaited iPhone X in November which will allow its owners to enjoy the option of unlocking their phone by simply giving their screen a gaze. To log off, an owner of the phone will simply have to look away from it.

According to Apple, iPhone owners log into their phones as often as 80 times a day. Some opponents of this new technology argue that being able to unlock a phone simply by gazing at it is far too easy.

It's gotten a lot of people talking about whether a police officer who detains you could potentially make you unwillingly unlock your phone by making you look at it. In 2014, when smartphones were released that would allow owners to use their fingerprint to log in, it put a number of phone owners in a precarious situation.

Legal battles were fought over users being asked by cops to unlock their phones with their fingerprints. In many cases, at both the federal and state levels, judges have authorized police to have an individual apply one's fingerprint for the purpose of accessing one's phone.

Interpretations of the Fifth Amendment have long been used to protect individuals from having to share their PIN numbers, passwords or any other protected codes if it has the potential of incriminating them. The same interpretation doesn't apply to an individual's body, however.

Legal experts suggest that rulings these judges have made in the past few years emphasize that a person's fingerprint or gaze is similar to one's handwriting or DNA. It's not seen as incriminating under the law. It's because of this, though, that many legal experts conclude that there may be merits to continuing to fight the battle over evidence collected this way.

If you've been asked to disclose a pin number or to use your fingerprint or gaze to open a phone and that information has then been used against you in a criminal case, you may want to reach out to a Salisbury, Maryland, criminal defense attorney can advise you of your rights with respect to this.

Source: The Atlantic, "Can Cops Force You to Unlock Your Phone With Your Face?," Kaveh Waddell, accessed Dec. 01, 2017

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