The Nordhordland District Court in Norway has ruled that police may compel a man to unlock his mobile device via fingerprint scan.
The individual was arrested on drug possession charges near the end of January, and police believe his smartphone contains information related to where he obtained the illegal substance. The suspect has so far refused to unlock the device, compelling police to seek court approval to force the man to provide his fingerprint for scanning.
While this could set an important precedent in Norway, as far as this particular case is concerned, it isn’t the end of it. The device in question is said to be an iPhone, and if so, its Touch ID fingerprint scanning system would have reset to require an official passcode after two days of disuse or multiple failed login attempts. This could mean that police will now have to appeal to the courts for approval to force the suspect to provide his passcode.
In its own problematic way, the situation helps to highlight the value of multi-factor authentication as a security measure. It also hints at how civil liberties and privacy issues will play out in the future as more cases emerge in which biometrically secured data plays a significant role.