True Privacy? Touch ID & Biometric Fingerprint Readers

flickr photo by Kārlis Dambrāns

flickr photo by Kārlis Dambrāns

By Darius Wood

Biometric Fingerprint readers like those found on the new iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5 have become major selling point in terms of protecting privacy, but they may be providing a false sense of security.

It has already been show that these fingerprint readers are imperfect and are capable of being hacked.  See: Galaxy S5 hacked, iPhone 6 hacked

Further, a phone secured with a fingerprint scan may not be protected from the government. The Fifth Amendment protects against compelled self-incrimination, not the disclosure of private information. Virginia Federal Circuit Judge Steven Frucci ruled last month that unlike passcodes, which are protected by the Fifth Amendment, fingerprints are not.

The judge said that providing your fingerprint does not communicate knowledge like disclosing a password, instead, it is similar to a providing a key or DNA, which are both legal.  The judge granted a motion to compel a fingerprint that would allow the government to search the defendant’s phone but denied the motion to compel the defendant’s passcode.

Judge ruling on Motion to Compel 

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