This week the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued an opinion upholding an Order requiring a criminal defendant to submit fingerprints to unlock a cell phone. The Court held that a defendant’s 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination is not violated when they are ordered to provide fingerprints to unlock a telephone. The court reasoned that providing fingerprints to unlock a phone is no different that requiring fingerprints for booking and identification. Nevermind the reason for obtaining the fingerprints, one being for identification and the other for the sole purpose to fish for self-incriminating evidence on a defendant’s cell phone.
The Court did distinguish this case from cases where it is a clear violation to require a defendant to decrypt a computer or provide a password combination for a safe.
The lesson to be learned from this case is that password protection actually creates a barrier from access by the government, but a fingerprint lock does not.
You can read the entire opinion here.