VIRGINIANS NEED TO USE PASSCODES ON SMART PHONES!

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Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge Steven C. Frucci has ruled that a person has to use their fingerprint to unlock smart phones, but not a passcode. The passcode is ruled as being protected by the Fifth Amendment. That means, till a higher court changes the ruling, people who have the fingerprint security in Virginia need to add a passcode. It is another part of the battle of what access cops can have to people’s phones.

The ruling

Here, via HamptonRoads.com, is what judge Frucci ruled.

Prosecutors had said video equipment in Baust’s bedroom may have recorded the couple’s fight and, if so, the video could be on his cellphone. They wanted a judge to force Baust to unlock his phone, but Baust’s attorney, James Broccoletti, argued pass codes are protected by the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits forced self-incrimination.

Judge Steven C. Frucci ruled this week that giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key, which the law permits. A pass code, though, requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which the law protects against, according to Frucci’s written opinion.

Broccoletti called Frucci’s ruling on target. The law is clear about fingerprints, he said, and the judge saw his point about pass codes.

Macie Pridgen, a spokeswoman for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors still are considering whether to appeal.

ZDNet take on ruling

Here, via technology site ZDNet, is their take on the ruling.

But, a fingerprint — used by a number of devices, like the latest iPhones, iPads, and Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets — does not fall within these protections, which Judge Steven C. Frucci likened it to handing over a DNA sample.

Perhaps the irony is that fingerprint technology was meant to make devices more secure for consumers and enterprises alike, and not easier to gain access to by government agencies.

There is a caveat, however. If a device is locked by both a fingerprint and a passcode, the passcode wins, meaning the device is protected.

It comes just a few weeks after Apple and Google announced steps to ensure that their iOS and Android devices come offer default encryption to prevent government agencies from seeking out their complicity in unlocking devices.

The two mobile phone making giants made the move after government surveillance details were leaked by former U.S. contractor Edward Snowden.

The biggest take away is this. The government wants total access to everyone’s lives. If the gentleman that is at the heart of the court case beat his girlfriend, then he is a criminal. The judge ruled for the Fifth not to protect him, but the hundreds of millions of innocent people who need protected.

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