Smartphones and some other devices use fingerprint technology to unlock them. That is a wonderful safety measure for people who want to keep their information safe and secure. That level of security poses a problem to police officers who are trying to investigate crimes. Recently, police officers have ventured into a new area of trying to get these phones unlocked.

The police officers are trying to use copied fingerprints to unlock a murder victim’s phone. If this works, it could prove to be a very important discovery for officers who are investigating crimes. The question about the legalities of this method would likely be posed by defendants who might end up having to battle against the evidence that could be found on the phones. Generally, searching a victim’s phone won’t bring up issues of self-incrimination, but it could bring up other constitutionality concerns for defendants.

In the case at hand, a professor at a university is using fingerprints of the victim that were taken while he was still alive. The problem with this method is that fingerprint recognition programs require that a tiny electrical circuits are closed by the conductivity that occurs in the living human body. That doesn’t happen with 3D models of fingers, so the professor opted to use a very thin metallic coating on the 3D fingers, which should allow the fingerprint scanner to properly read them.

Even though this case isn’t in Wisconsin, it will be still be one to watch because it is forging into new areas — finding ways to unlock phones using biometrics and the constitutionality of doing so as part of a criminal justice investigation. This case shows that defendants might have to deal with certain grey areas in their cases when new technology is a key component.

Source: FindLaw, “Police Hope 3D Printed Fingers Will Unlock Murder Victim’s Phone,” Ephrat Livni, Esq., accessed Aug. 12, 2016