The next version of the iPhone’s operating system will include a feature that lets users quickly and temporarily disable Touch ID from the lock screen by tapping the power button five times in rapid succession. The maneuver also brings up a screen to dial emergency services, with a passcode needed to access the device further.
The feature was found by user’s trying out the iOS 11 public beta, and has since been dubbed ‘the cop button’.
The intention behind the device seems to be more about protecting users’ privacy than allowing them to call 9-1-1. The current version of iOS already includes an emergency call feature that can be accessed from the lock screen, so that isn’t what’s innovative about the cop button. Rather, it’s the fact that it disables fingerprint scanning and requires the user’s passcode for access. This would be useful for situations in which users are worried they will be forced to unlock their device.
More specifically, it would be useful for users who don’t want to give police access to their iPhones. US citizens have a right to protection from self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, meaning they don’t have to divulge information that could be of interest to police, such as a phone passcode. But a fingerprint is not something you know, and a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year found that police can compel criminal suspects to unlock their phones using a fingerprint scan. By preventing that from being possible, iOS 11’s new cop button isn’t so much about calling the cops as it is about stopping them in their tracks.
Source: The Verge