FBI Forces Suspect to Unlock iPhone X via Face ID; A First Instance Ever

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Moupiya Dutta
Moupiya Dutta
She finds it interesting to learn and analyze society. she keeps herself updated, emphasizing technology, social media, and science. She loves to pen down her thoughts, interested in music, art, and exploration around the globe.

An incident occurred on August 10, which made the FBI force an Apple iPhone X owner to unlock the device with his face. The incident happened last month in Columbus, Ohio, when the FBI called on 28-year-old Grant Michalski at his home. Armed with a search warrant, the FBI forced Michalski to glance at his Apple iPhone X, unlocking the device, as reported by Forbes.

Michalski was ultimately charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. The FBI raided his home to look for evidence of whether Grant Michalski had sent or received child pornography. They were equipped with a search warrant which allowed them to search Michalski’s computer for evidence, and during the raid, agents recovered his iPhone X. Michalski was asked to face his phone, which he gladly did.

Previously, Apple defied a federal judge back by not unlocking the iPhone 5C belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook in 2016. Since then, suspects have opened locked iPhones using their fingerprints to activate Touch ID.

Cracking machines from GrayShift and Cellebrite has become a common practice as many law enforcement agencies rely on it that uses brute force techniques to unlock an iPhone. Talking about GrayShift, it has been able to stay one step ahead of Apple, claiming that it solved the USB Restrictive Mode introduced in iOS 12.

While the FBI obtained a warrant and appeared to have done everything within the bounds of the law, concerns remain about the use of such tactics as regarding the law. This seems to be easy for the FBI as Michalski did not challenge the use of Face ID to unlock his iPhone. Some lawyers believe that a suspect can prevent law enforcement from taking the means of facial recognition to open a phone by simply pleading his/her fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination. If done so by this suspect, it would have been a big turnover for both; the FBI and the iPhone.

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