Federal investigators can use a suspect’s biometric features, including fingerprints and iris scans, to unlock tech devices as part of a criminal investigation, a federal magistrate judge in Washington said in a ruling unsealed this week.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had not confronted the issue in earlier cases, the magistrate judge, G. Michael Harvey, said in his ruling. Harvey asked the federal public defender office to participate in the case “because the compelled unlocking of digital devices is an emerging area of the law raising both Fourth and Fifth Amendment issues.”

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