Apple and FBI have been at loggerheads since early 2016 when the technology company challenged a court order to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to unlock the iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter. FBI got its way and got the phone unlocked – after months of legal tussle – without Apple’s aid. The FBI, reportedly, has used fingerprints of dead convicts to unlock their iPhones through Touch ID multiple times and a new report notes that the federal detective agency is now closer to hacking Face ID to accomplish this.
Forbes got in touch with an FBI forensics expert Bob Moledor who remarked that one of the major problems is not being able to unlock a suspect’s iPhone – especially when the suspect is dead, but when the phone might hold critical cues to a crime.
The FBI, however, does not struggle to get its way as the report acknowledges that it is “relatively common” for the federal and local police as well as other investigative and security forces to use a deceased person’s thumb for unlocking iPhones.
Forbes also notes that the legal aspect of the issue is not clear but law enforcement agencies claim that a search warrant is not required to search a person’s phone. Despite ethical constraints, the federal law does not give a dead person the right over their body.
While talking to Cloudflare’s head of information security, Marc Rogers, Forbes was told that Face ID can also be breached easily. Contrary to Apple’s claims about Face ID’s high accuracy, Rogers alleges that it can be fooled using images in which the user’s eyes are wide open. Back in November, researchers from Vietnam had fooled Face ID using 3D masks of people’s faces. Moreover, Rogers said that Face ID also works with a single open eye and claimed it to be “easier to unlock than Touch ID“.
Lastly, Rogers said that while there haven’t been any noted cases of the police using Face ID suspects’ iPhone X yet, we will see that eventually. So it would not be a surprising sight if cops grab someone’s iPhone and hold it against their face to unlock the device. Moreover, capturing felons’ fingerprints and facial imagery is part of the investigative process, so there’s no doubting that the lawmakers will not oppose this act anyway.