Fingerprint scans are more secure, except when it comes to the Fifth Amendment
Cellphone fingerprint passcodes weren’t on James Madison’s mind when he
authored the Fifth Amendment, a constitutional protection with roots in
preventing torture by barring self-incriminating testimonials in court cases.
Yet those tiny skin ridges we all share were at the heart of a Virginia court case
last week in which a judge ruled that police, who suspected there was
incriminating evidence on a suspect’s smartphone, could legally force
the man to unlock his device with its fingerprint scanner. While the
Fifth Amendment protects defendants from revealing their numeric
passcodes, which would be considered a self-incriminating testimonial,
biometrics like fingerprint scans fall outside the law’s scope.