The problem for police is that most people now use a password on their phone, which means that they may be able to get a hold of the phone through a warrant, but now they can't unlock it and see the pot of gold. In comes Apple with new technology that allows one to unlock the phone with a fingerprint, which does not hold the same protection rights. We leave fingerprints everywhere.
While New Jersey has not ruled on the issue of whether or not one must unlock a fingerprint phone, a Virginia state court has. The Virginia court last week ruled that
IF the suspect's phone has a "touch-to-unlock" feature, suspects must use their finger or thumb to unlock the device, BUT they can NOT be compelled to turn over the passcode.
You might ask, what is one to do than if in a situation where the police have a warrant for your phone and it is fingerprint protected? Well, if it is an Apple phone, if you turn off the phone completely, when the phone is turned back on, you MUST use the passcode to unlock the phone before you can start using the fingerprint again. Essentially, it would go like this:
-police are knocking with a warrant for the phone and you power down the phone. Police get the phone, but can't use it against you.
For now, this remains one ruling by a state court in Virginia. But, expect to see this issue continue to evolve and more cases presented until our U.S. Supreme court makes an ultimate ruling.