Norway to Force Accused Criminal to Unlock His Phone via Fingerprint

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.

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.

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Norway to Force Accused Criminal to Unlock His Phone via Fingerprint