The Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided that it is okay to walk into a person’s home and demand that fingerprints are taken in order to open up their own private phones via fingerprint recognition, the Daily Herald reported.
The Daily Herald found the news report by Forbes, of this unprecedented case of over-stepping authority and violations of the 4th and 5th Amendment of the Constitution, investigators in Lancaster, Ca., were granted a search warrant last May with a scope that allowed them to force anyone inside the premises at the time of search.
Forbes found the court filing, dated May 9 2016, in which the Department of Justice sought to search a Lancaster, California, property.
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But there was a more remarkable aspect of the search, as pointed out in the memorandum: “authorization to depress the fingerprints and thumbprints of every person who is located at the SUBJECT PREMISES during the execution of the search and who is reasonably believed by law enforcement to be the user of a fingerprint sensor-enabled device that is located at the SUBJECT PREMISES and falls within the scope of the warrant.”
The warrant was not available to the public, nor was other documents related to the case, Thomas Fox-Brewster, a member of the Forbes staff who covers crime, privacy and security in digital and physical forms stated.
“They want the ability to get a warrant on the assumption that they will learn more after they have a warrant,” said Marina Medvin of Medvin Law told Fox-Brewster. “Essentially, they are seeking to have the ability to convince people to comply by providing their fingerprints to law enforcement under the color of law – because of the fact that they already have a warrant. They want to leverage this warrant to induce compliance by people they decide are suspects later on. This would be an unbelievably audacious abuse of power if it were permitted.”
Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), stated in response to the report, “It’s not enough for a government to just say we have a warrant to search this house and therefore this person should unlock their phone. The government needs to say specifically what information they expect to find on the phone, how that relates to criminal activity and I would argue they need to set up a way to access only the information that is relevant to the investigation.”
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