UCHastings Instagram

Barrister's Ball
Instagram Photo Likes thoffany, jaybeedoe, exnowayyy and 12 others like this.
Thursday, September 12, 2013

Adjunct Professor Marcia Hofmann on the iPhone's New Fingerprint ID

Hofmann looks at the legal implications of Apple's new identification system in this opinion piece in Wired, Sept. 12, 2013.

There’s a lot of talk around biometric authentication since Apple introduced its newest iPhone, which will let users unlock their device with a fingerprint. Given Apple’s industry-leading position, it’s probably not a far stretch to expect this kind of authentication to take off. Some even argue that Apple’s move is a death knell for authenticators based on what a user knows (like passwords and PIN numbers).

While there’s a great deal of discussion around the pros and cons of fingerprint authentication — from the hackability of the technique to the reliability of readers — no one’s focusing on the legal effects of moving from PINs to fingerprints.

Because the constitutional protection of the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees that “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” may not apply when it comes to biometric-based fingerprints (things that reflect who we are) as opposed to memory-based passwords and PINs (things we need to know and remember).

Biometric authentication may make it easier for normal, everyday users to protect the data on their phones. But as wonderful as technological innovation is, it sometimes creates unintended consequences — including legal ones. If Apple’s move leads us to abandon knowledge-based authentication altogether, we risk inadvertently undermining the legal rights we currently enjoy under the Fifth Amendment.

Here’s an easy fix: give users the option to unlock their phones with a fingerprint plus something the user knows.

Read the full piece from Wired here. Follow Hofmann on Twitter at @marciahofmann

 

Go to News Archive

Share this Story

Share via Facebook
Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

Other Recent Stories/ RSS

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Recruiting 2Ls: Lawyers for America

The public service program provides extraordinary working opportunities in a variety of fields.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Professor Sheila Purcell Promotes Alternative Dispute Resolution at Home and Abroad

Professor Purcell discusses the comprehensive ADR program at UC Hastings and the growing popularity of ADR around the globe.
Monday, October 27, 2014

HSIR Volunteers Provide Legal Assistance to Undocumented UCSC Students

Professor Weisberg initiated the project and Professor Boswell trained students for the event, forestalling possible deportations.
Monday, October 27, 2014

ASUCH's Speed Meet & Greet Puts New Twist on Networking

More than 40 attorneys and 120 students participated in ASUCH’s Speed Meet & Greet—a first-of-its-kind event at UC Hastings.
Go to News Archive