Cops Use Dead Suspects’ Fingerprints to Open iPhones -- FBI Forensics

Technology > Security

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The topic about unlocking an iPhone with the use of a fingerprint of a dead suspect via TouchID has recently been brought to light by FBI forensics specialist Bob Moledor, who described the details in Forbes about the practice.

The forensic specialist said that one of the common problems faced by law enforcement agencies is gathering the necessary information from a suspect’s phone as it needs a passcode before they can open it. The report also pointed out how, in many instances, the law enforcement gained access to a deceased person’s iPhone, claiming that it is “relatively common for fingerprints of the deceased to be depressed on the scanner of Apple iPhone.”

Forbes also cited from sources that are reportedly close to federal and local police investigations in Ohio and New York that the technique has been utilized in overdose cases. They said that the victim’s phone may have information that will directly lead them to the dealer.

Moledor recalls the incident in 2016 when the FBI attempted to open the phone of Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an Ohio State University student that was shot by the police when he slashed students using a butcher knife. He said that an FBI agent applied the lifeless index finger of Ali Artan to access the Apple device and learn about the motive of the assailant himself.

As for the legality of the practice, even if there may be an ethical challenge to consider, it is “entirely legal for the police to use the technique,” said the report. Medvin Law firm’s owner Marina Medvin reportedly said that once a person is dead, the individual will no longer have a privacy interest in the dead body.