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Scanning fingerprint/Peshkova/iStock Scanning fingerprint/Peshkova/iStock

We all know that smartphones and similar devices contain enormous quantities of personal and private information. Not surprisingly, for that reason, the government considers them a treasure trove of potential evidence in criminal investigations. Most courts have now concluded that forcing an individual to provide the password for a smartphone to a law enforcement agent runs afoul of the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination. A split in the federal courts has begun to emerge recently, however, as to whether compelling an individual to provide a fingerprint or other biometric data to unlock a smartphone amounts to a similar constitutional violation. This article will discuss two recent representative cases reflecting the divergent views on this issue.

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