Having to type in a passcode to unlock your smartphone is worse than having the device recognize your face or fingerprint – with one exception.
That’s if somebody with a badge directs you to unlock your device with one of those biometric identifiers. Courts have held that while law-enforcement officials can’t force you to enter a passcode, they can demand that you show your face or touch a fingertip.
In one recent case, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent unlocked an iPhone X by holding it up to the suspect’s face and asking him to look at it – revealing evidence of child pornography on the phone.
That case looks like a criminal getting what he deserved. But it doesn’t mean you should make things easier for somebody demanding to peek at your phone’s contents for no apparent reason – for instance, if you’re at a security checkpoint.
Fortunately, both Apple and Google offer shortcuts to disable their biometric-unlock features. Unfortunately, only one of them is widely available.
In Apple’s iOS 11 and 12, you can temporarily block its Touch ID fingerprint recognition or Face ID facial recognition with one of two sequences of button presses that launch an iPhone’s Emergency SOS mode.
On an iPhone 8 or a more recent model, press and hold the power/sleep button and either of the volume buttons. On an older iPhone, quickly press the power/sleep button five times in a row.
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Source: USA Today