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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Criminal Defense > New iPhone Features Could Protect Your Rights

New iPhone Features Could Protect Your Rights

Your phone contains your personal information. No one has the right to force you to unlock your phone and allow unlimited access. Or do they?

Some may have been following the news as of late. Various stories abound of cops being granted warrants for access to electronic data. People have been forced to open their computers, tablets and cellphones to inspection by law enforcement officials.

What some people may not be aware of is that, in the eyes of the courts, a fingerprint and a passcode are very different. A fingerprint is physical evidence. A passcode, however, falls under the contents of one’s mind, therefore protected by the First Amendment. Therefore, in the eyes of the law, a person may be forced to use their fingerprint to unlock their phone but not be forced to hand over their passcode. It’s a fine line, but one that could make all the difference.

How Apple Is Fighting Back

In response to this, Apple has created what has been dubbed the “cop button.” With the release of iOS 11, people will be able to tap the fingerprint scanner five times. This will allow the person to call 911 for help while simultaneously making their phone unlockable without a passcode. Once this code is used, the Touch ID feature will be disabled until the correct passcode is entered. This essentially locks law enforcement out of a phone with no way in.

Face unlocking is expected to be released with iOS 11 and the next generation of iPhone. This will also be considered physical evidence. Any person who is worried about the police being granted access to their phone may want to reconsider enabling the feature. Because the feature has not been released yet, it is unclear how it will be treated in the eyes of the law. It is presumed, however, that courts will consider unlocking your phone with your face to be the same as unlocking it with a fingerprint.

Exercise Caution with Your Phone

For now, anyone with an electronic device should be aware that its contents may be perusable by law enforcement officials. That inspection may be immediate or it may be after the issuance of a warrant. In either case, it is typically advisable to keep things off of your device that aren’t fit for public consumption. While evidence gained from your phone may be rendered inadmissible after a court fight, it’s not guaranteed. Not providing that evidence in the first place is in your best interest.

If you have been arrested for a crime in DeKalb County or the surrounding area, reach out to our experienced team of criminal defense attorneys. We will review the details of your arrest and charges and advise you of your legal options. We have the knowledge and experience needed to assist you during this time in your life. Call today or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.

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