Why Fingerprint Unlocking is Not Protected by the Fifth Amendment

constitution-1486010_1280 Because a court could demand that you use your fingerprint to open your smartphone during an investigation, attorneys are warning people against using the biometric feature on their devices. Legally, an investigator cannot forcibly obtain a passcode, but they can get you to reveal information by scanning your fingerprint. While the contents of one’s mind are protected under the law with the right to privacy, physical attributes like fingerprints do not have the same benefit.

The Fifth Amendment protects us against self-incrimination, but it does nothing to protect our physical characteristics that are available to the police, such as biometric data like fingerprints. As biometric technology spreads and more and more devices have fingerprinting sensors, the more susceptible people are to losing the control of their information. While the unlocking of these devices via fingerprint is a niche in the law, every time you use Touch ID you are opening yourself up to a legal vulnerability should extenuating circumstances occur?