Courts have been pretty divided as to whether people can be forced to unlock their phones or computers and whether unlocking your phone can be considered forcing you to incriminate you in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
At this point, the general theory is that if your device is locked with a password, forcing you to reveal something you know is like testimony and violates the Fifth Amendment.
On the other side, if you lock your phone with a fingerprint or now a faceprint, you can be compelled to provide your finger or face to unlock the phone because that is like being forced to submit a DNA or blood sample and that doesn’t conflict with the Fifth Amendment in the court’s mind.
That being said, there is at least one person who has been in jail for two years for contempt of court for failing to unlock an encrypted hard drive in a child porn case.
So what if you want convenience but also don’t want the cops to be able to unlock your phone by solely pointing it at your face?
Enter the “cop button” in iOS 11 .
There is a not well documented but now well known feature that allows you to quickly disable biometric authentication and, optionally, dial 911. I am sure that Apple will play up the quick way to dial 911 and play down the disable biometric login, but the cat is out of the bag.
So, how do you do it? Press the power button FIVE times quickly and it will disable biometric unlock and OPTIONALLY, if you choose to configure it that way, call 911.
So when you see the lights and siren of the cop in your rear view mirror, you press the power button five times, toss the phone on the passenger seat and the phone now requires a password.
Compare this to the pre-iOS 11 way of having to reboot your phone, use the wrong finger enough times for it to lock you out or disable touch ID in settings. This is far quicker and more discreet.
Even though many law enforcement members use Apple phones, this new feature is not likely to make Apple a lot of new friends in the law enforcement community.
Information for this post came from The Verge.