The security built into Apple’s iPhone is some of the best in the mobile phone world. From high-tech encryption to personalized access options like fingerprint scanners and face recognition capability, the iPhone offers users leading security features with a trademark ease-of-use.
All those features may be for nothing, as agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation have found a way to “bypass” Face ID locks this past August.
According to an investigation by Forbes, the house of 28-year-old Grant Michalski was searched by the FBI. An agent armed with a warrant used Michalski’s own face to unlock his iPhone X.
With no hacks or tricks, the agent had the phone unlocked.
You don’t have to worry about the government forcing you to unlock your phone just yet. Although some have said Michalski is the victim of government overreach, others are quick to point out that his “forced” iPhone unlock was done as part of a child abuse investigation against him.
Emails previously exchanged between Michalski and a man he met on Craigslist detailed incest and sexual abuse against minors.
On the phone, agents discovered messages relating to the abuse of minors and even darker things. Agents say he used the message app Kik to communicate with others sharing his degenerate interests.
Michalski has now been charged with receiving and possessing child pornography.
Face ID, unlike the fingerprint unlocks on some devices, doesn’t require physical contact with the phone. A visible face is all that’s necessary to unlock it. Agents used that fact to their advantage.
The technology has improved drastically since an earlier implementation caught flak over a “racist” glitch.
Specialty video equipment reveals how the technology work, and why a photograph won’t fool it.
Critics of the unlocking tactic have been speaking out against the practice.
Fred Jennings, a Tor Ekeland Law senior associate, thinks the law is simply behind the times.
“The law is not well formed to provide the intuitive protections people think about when they’re using a Face ID unlock,” Jennings said of the case.
He also indicated that any challenge to the law enforcement status quo would be from someone invoking the Fifth Amendment.
Until the challenge against unlocking is made, more will likely be subject to this potentially invading practice.
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