Apple Accidentally Improved a Genuine Legal Issue for iPhone Owners - The UpStream

Apple Accidentally Improved a Genuine Legal Issue for iPhone Owners

posted Saturday Aug 19, 2017 by Scott Ertz

Apple Accidentally Improved a Genuine Legal Issue for iPhone Owners

Since the introduction of Touch ID, there have been some potential legal issues for owners. When the feature was first introduced, Marcia Hofmann of Wired Magazine pointed out Touch ID could override the 5th Amendment. Police are allowed to make someone perform a simple task, such as walking a straight line during a traffic incident, but they cannot compel you to share information without a warrant. Her prediction was that, eventually a court would rule that placing your finger on the device would not be protected the way that sharing your password is protected.

A year later, a Virginia court ruled in the police favor, allowing them to force a Touch ID unlock without a warrant. Since then, iPhone owners all over the country have been forced to make a choice - do you use the Touch ID for convenience and risk a personal invasion, or do you use the phone PIN and protect your information?

With the most recent beta of iOS 11, Apple has introduced a feature that has an interesting side-effect. The feature allows a user to rapidly press the power button of the phone to trigger a panic mode. The panic mode allows you to call emergency services easily, but its side effect is even more intriguing. After triggering panic mode, the phone locks itself to prevent information from being stolen. To unlock the device, you must enter your PIN, as if the phone had been power cycled. This feature makes perfect sense, assuming you're being mugged, it can keep the phone safer from the mugger.

The interesting side-effect here is that, if you're being pulled over by the police, you can also trigger panic mode to prevent the cops from forcing you to unlock the device. This added feature, likely an accidental side-effect rather than a conscious idea, is a welcomed change. Personally, I have opted to skip the Touch ID feature all this time because of the potential for corporate confidential information to be retrieved by law enforcement without a warrant. This new feature, however, will finally be the turning point that will allow myself, and others, to use a feature that Apple introduced 4 years and 5 phone models ago.

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