Apple and Google have taken steps recently to let users protect information stored on smartphones – even from law enforcement. It turns out there may be a fingerprint-sized gap in that plan.
A Virginia Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday that police officers cannot force criminal suspects to divulge cellphone passwords, but they can force them to unlock the phone with a fingerprint scanner.
If applied by other courts, the ruling could become important as more device makers incorporate fingerprint readers that can be used as alternatives to passwords. Apple introduced the technology last year in its iPhone 5S and Samsung included it in its Galaxy S5.
When those phones arrived, lawyers said users might be required to unlock the phones with their fingerprints. More recently, Apple and Google said they had changed the encryption scheme on the newest phones using their operating systems so that law enforcement can’t retrieve the data. FBI Director James Comey criticized the companies, saying were allowing users to “place themselves above the law.”
Issa, House GOP to recall Lois Lerner
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is hauling Lois Lerner back to Congress.
Issa told Lerner’s attorney in a Tuesday letter that he expected the retired IRS official to appear before his committee on March 5.
“Because the committee explicitly rejected her Fifth Amendment privilege claim, I expect her to provide answers when the hearing reconvenes on March 5.”
— Chairman Darrell Issa
Lerner, the official at the center of the IRS targeting controversy, invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination at a May 2013 hearing, just days after she apologized for the agency’s treatment of Tea Party groups.
See “Sit Down, Bitch, We’re Not Done Yet (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
But the Oversight Committee later ruled that Lerner waived her rights by making an opening statement, setting the stage for her recall next week.