In 2013, Apple introduced technology that allowed iPhone users to secure their 5s by using a fingerprint scan. Samsung went on to similar adopt technology and incorporate it into its Galaxy S5. This innovative step was made to protect users from predators and the law, however, the latter has found a way to circumvent the security measure.
In February, Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan, a suspected Armenian gangster’s 29-year-old lady, was sentenced for one count of identity theft, after a federal judge in Los Angeles signed a warrant “authorizing law-enforcement officers to place her finger or thumb on the Touch ID sensor of her iPhone.” He had to act swiftly, because iPhone users are only able to unlock their phones with their fingerprints within 48 hours. After that, or a restart, a passcode will be required to unlock the phone. It was not clear what the authorities were looking for in the smartphone, but it was a monumental decision, as it was the first warrant of its kind.
The judge in that case leaned on a 2014 decision by a Virginia judge that allowed police officers to force a smartphone user to use is/her fingerprint to unlock his/her device. According to The Atlantic:
The Fifth Amendment, which protects people from incriminating themselves during legal proceedings, prevents the government from compelling someone to turn over a memorized PIN or passcode. But fingerprints, like other biometric indicators—DNA, handwriting samples, your likeness—have long been considered fair game, because they don’t reveal anything in your mind.
So, while the fingerprint scan may be swaggy, if your phone’s security is of importance to you, and you don’t want the laws seeing what’s on it, your best bet is to use a PIN/passcode. While a passcode is not flawless, the powers-that-be cannot require that you provide it to unlock your phone.