Police Told to Avoid Looking at iPhone Screens Locked With Face ID

Police in the United States are being advised not to look at iPhone screens secured with Face ID, because doing so could disable facial authentication and leave investigators needing a potentially harder-to-obtain passcode to gain access.

Face ID on iPhone X and iPhone XS attempts to authenticate a face up to five times before the feature is disabled and the user's passcode is required to unlock the smartphone.

ios forensics slide elcomsoft

Elcomsoft presentation slide talking about Face ID (image via Motherboard)

Given the way the security system works, Motherboard reports that forensics company Elcomsoft is advising law enforcement, "don't look at the sceen, or else... the same thing will occur as happened [at] Apple's event."

The note appears on a slide belonging to an Elcomsoft presentation on iOS forensics, and refers to Apple's 2017 presentation of Face ID, in which Apple VP Craig Federighi tried and failed to unlock an iPhone X with his own face, before the device asked for a passcode instead.

Apple later explained that the iPhone locked after several people backstage interacted with it ahead of Federighi, causing it to require a passcode to unlock.

The advice follows a recent report of the first known case of law enforcement forcing a suspect to unlock an iPhone using Face ID. The action subsequently helped police uncover evidence that was later used to charge the suspect with receiving and possessing child pornography.

In the United States, forcing someone to give up a password is interpreted as self-incrimination, which is protected by the Fifth Amendment, but courts have ruled that there's a difference between a biometric recognition system like Touch ID and a passcode that you type into your phone.

In some cases, police have gained access to digital data by forcing people to unlock mobile devices using their fingers. Indeed, before Face ID was in use, law enforcement was advised how it could avoid locking Touch ID fingerprint-based authentication on Apple's iPhones.

"With Touch ID, you have to press the button (or at least touch it)," Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft, told Motherboard. "That's why we always recommend (on our trainings) to use the power button instead, e.g to see whether the phone is locked. But with Face ID, it is easier to use 'accidentally' by simply looking at the phone."

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.

Tags: Face ID, law
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

musicpenguy Avatar
39 months ago
I disabled all security check on my Iphone. With no passwords, no Face ID, I'm saving so many seconds and if I forget my phone somewhere it can be easily returned to me.
My private data is not worse than average and I have nothing to hide.
With my "unsecured" Iphone 6s, I have a faster reaction time than any 2018 Iphone with Face ID on.
The only reason my mom has her phone returned to her was because she had it locked and used Find My iPhone - the young kid who stole it quickly realized with it locked that he couldn’t resell it - with a completely open device it is easily resold and I can’t imagine you’d ever get it back.
Score: 69 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Velok Avatar
39 months ago
I disabled all security check on my Iphone. With no passwords, no Face ID, I'm saving so many seconds and if I forget my phone somewhere it can be easily returned to me.
My private data is not worse than average and I have nothing to hide.
With my "unsecured" Iphone 6s, I have a faster reaction time than any 2018 Iphone with Face ID on.
So, if a scammer finds you phone, he can easily misuse your phone in his scamming attempts. Much easier to social engineer someone at at your bank etc when they can call from your number. Plus full access to emails+++

That you don’t have anything to hide might be the least important factor when you consider wether to secure your phone or not.

Enjoy the milliseconds you save compared to faceID; you will need them all (and more) when you’re cleaning up after a scammer that got to your phone.
Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)
flyingspur Avatar
39 months ago
Side button and volume up or down button a couple seconds, Face ID disabled.
Score: 50 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
39 months ago
I disabled all security check on my Iphone. With no passwords, no Face ID, I'm saving so many seconds and if I forget my phone somewhere it can be easily returned to me.
My private data is not worse than average and I have nothing to hide.
With my "unsecured" Iphone 6s, I have a faster reaction time than any 2018 Iphone with Face ID on.
That’s so ridiculous, I don’t even know where to begin.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sinsin07 Avatar
39 months ago
Would be nice to have an anti-law enforcement feature that makes it as easy as possible to completely lock out any law enforcement official.
While you're waiting for Apple to make an official method, some clever person/people came up with this Shortcut:
https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/2d68cb1ee7b84f08ace2fd600b9855b5
Based on what MacRumors member rjtyork posted it does the following:
"Just by saying “Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over”, Siri will pause your music, turn on do not disturb, send your location and a message to pre-determined contacts, dim your screen, start recording video from your front camera, upload that video to iCloud Drive or google drive, and send the video to any contacts you choose."
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
826317 Avatar
39 months ago
Would be nice to have an anti-law enforcement feature that makes it as easy as possible to completely lock out any law enforcement official.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

mac scanner permission error

Apple Says Fix Planned for 'You Do Not Have Permission to Open the Application' Error When Using a Scanner on Mac

Saturday August 14, 2021 6:15 am PDT by
In a newly published support document on its website, Apple has acknowledged an error that some users may receive when they try to use a scanner with a Mac in the Image Capture app, Preview app, or the Printers & Scanners section of System Preferences. A screenshot of the error message from the HP Support Community When attempting to use a scanner with a Mac, Apple said users might get an...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...
apple california streaming event

Apple Event Announced: 'California Streaming' on September 14 With iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7 Expected

Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple today announced that it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 a.m. The event will take place at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with WWDC and last year's fall events, this new event will be held digitally with no members of the media invited to attend in person. Apple will likely provide pre-taped segments for...
iOS 15 icon on phone

Apple Seeds Sixth Betas of iOS and iPadOS 15 to Developers

Tuesday August 17, 2021 10:05 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth betas of iOS and iPadOS 15 to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming one week after Apple released the fifth betas. Registered developers can download the profile for the iOS and iPadOS betas from the Apple Developer Center, and once the profile is installed, beta updates will be available over the air. iOS 15 is a major update that...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
omg lightning cable comparison

Security Researcher Develops Lightning Cable With Hidden Chip to Steal Passwords

Thursday September 2, 2021 6:59 am PDT by
A normal-looking Lightning cable that can used to steal data like passwords and send it to a hacker has been developed, Vice reports. The "OMG Cable" compared to Apple's Lightning to USB cable. The "OMG Cable" works exactly like a normal Lightning to USB cable and can log keystrokes from connected Mac keyboards, iPads, and iPhones, and then send this data to a bad actor who could be over a...
maroon5memories

Apple Collaborates With Maroon 5 to Add 'Memories' Song to Photos App

Wednesday September 25, 2019 12:02 pm PDT by
Apple has teamed up with Maroon 5 to add the group's new song "Memories" to the Memories feature in the Photos app, allowing it to be used for photo slide show creations, reports Billboard. "Memories" will be available as a soundtrack option for a limited time and it is available to iPhone and iPad users running the latest iOS 13 and iPadOS software. Memories in the Photos app are created ...
it home ecommerce app iphone 13

iPhone 13 to Launch on September 17, AirPods 3 on September 30, Claims Report

Wednesday August 25, 2021 2:42 am PDT by
Apple may be planning to launch the iPhone 13 on Friday, September 17 and third-generation AirPods on Thursday, September 30, according to an image of an e-commerce app discovered by Chinese language site IT Home. The screenshot, originally posted by Weibo account @PandaIsBald, suggests all four iPhone 13 models will go on sale on September 17, followed by the AirPods 3 on September 30....
Top Stories 75 Thumbnail

Top Stories: Last-Minute iPhone 13 Rumors, Apple Announces App Store Changes, and More

Saturday September 4, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
The finish line is in sight! Apple's annual iPhone event is likely just a week or so away and all eyes will be on the company as it unveils the next version of its most popular product line. With any luck, we'll also see the next-generation Apple Watch and perhaps even some new AirPods. Other news this week saw Apple making some more changes to its App Store policies in response to a...