Norway to Force Accused Criminal to Unlock His Phone via Fingerprint

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Norwegian police will force a 27-year-old man accused of drug possession to unlock his mobile phone via fingerprint, according to local website Bergensavisen [Google Translate]. The police believe the confiscated smartphone may contain evidence about where he obtained the illegal substance.

iPhone-6s-Touch-ID
The man, who reportedly admitted he was culpable, has refused to unlock his phone for police since being charged, but the Nordhordland District Court's recent verdict allows Norwegian police to force the accused's thumb on to his fingerprint-secured phone. Local police will also analyze his phone call and data history.

The brand of the phone is not disclosed in the report, but if it is an iPhone, it is not clear if Norwegian police are aware that Touch ID requires a passcode as supplemental verification after 48 hours of disuse, a restart, or three failed fingerprint entry attempts. The accused was arrested on January 25, so it may be impossible for authorities to unlock an iPhone with Touch ID without taking additional measures.

In the U.S., a Virginia court ruled that fingerprints, unlike passwords and passcodes, are not protected by the Fifth Amendment. In his ruling, Judge Steven C. Frucci opined that "giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key," which is permitted under federal law.

Correction: The source article does not explicitly state that the device in question is an iPhone, and this article has been updated to reflect that.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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60 months ago
I'll bet he was wishing for an error 53 :p
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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60 months ago
It's a simple case with a small time offense to establish a legal precedent. I doubt they even care about the content of this particular phone.
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If a judge OK's it what's the problem? Why would a phone be any different then a locked box if a warrant is being executed.

Because you are forcing the accused to participate in the collection of evidence. This could be more analogous to forcing a person to reveal the combination of a pad lock.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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60 months ago
Bet he's wishing he'd had the home button replaced by a third-party vendor.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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60 months ago

If you don't participate in criminal activity then this is a non-issue.

If you have nothing good to say then taking away your freedom of speech would also be a non-issue?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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60 months ago
Wtf???!
Holy crap!!!
For possession??!!
That's insane. So, this guy was NOT a drug dealer... nor even a heavy drug user. Clearly didn't have any kind of quantity on him to suggest that or they would've charged him accordingly... a "lowest level" criminal I can imagine... & he's the one they're making a big deal over????
Jesus Christ Norway, chill the eff out!
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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60 months ago
Doubt the norwegian government is interested in the contents of the phone. Probably they have plenty of evidence from other sources.

And what if they're using Wickr or Telegram. Both have encrypted content and timer, so even if they forced him to unlock the phone, they'll have to go thru another encryption. And in that case won't find anything.


It's a political move. Let's screw everybody's privacy so we can catch the rapists and kidnappers.

And the 48h is too much. Would be nice if we could adjust to less.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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