Case reveals legal rules of thumb tricky with iPhone sensors

October 17, 2017 - 7:27 pm
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CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge in Chicago is the latest to weigh in on still-disputed legal questions about whether law enforcement can order suspects to put their fingers on fingerprint sensors to unlock a smartphone.

Judge Edmond Chang's recent decision overturned a magistrate's ruling in a child pornography case that barred investigators from forcing suspects to supply the fingerprints.

The magistrate had ruled that forcing four residents of a home to each place their fingers on Apple iPhone Touch ID sensors would violate their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

But Chang in a ruling unsealed only this month cited long-standing Supreme Court rulings that permitted law enforcement to compel suspects to turn over keys to safes or boxes.

He agreed with prosecutors that the fingerprints were akin to physical keys.

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