Unblock your iPhone voluntarily or we will use your thumb

In an investigation into a phishing gang, the police were allowed to unlock a suspect’s iPhone via his thumb, according to the court in Noord-Holland.

The suspect did not want to unlock his iPhone voluntarily. Then the police handcuffed him and then held his thumb against the fingerprint reader of the iPhone to unlock the device.

This gave the police access to the stored data that could subsequently be examined. “Not only did the (unnecessary) use of the handcuffs and the subsequent pressing of the thumb on the telephone screen acted in violation of the Office instruction for the police, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee and other investigating officers and with the right to physical integrity, also acted contrary to the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity “, according to the lawyer of the suspect.

It is allowed

The court states that police officers had the “legitimate expectation” that there was important information on the iPhone about suspicions against the suspect. Furthermore, the judge stated that the police in 2016 for this type of iPhone had no technical possibilities to access the data on the device. “By placing the suspect’s thumb on the sensor, only a limited violation of his physical integrity was made, so the court is of the opinion that the investigating officers have acted lawfully in this case.”

The investigating officers have acted lawfully in this case

Phishing suspects

In 2015 and 2016, the suspect and two other men sent out phishing emails in which victims were asked for their PINs and debit cards. Victims had to enter their PIN code on a phishing site and send their debit card to a specified address. They would then receive a new bank card, according to the phishing emails.


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