FBI got warrant to force Face ID unlock on Cohen’s devices


Michael Cohen Face ID
Michael Cohen was forced by a court warrant to open his iPhone with Face ID.
Photo: Apple

Michael Cohen’s Apple devices were treated as evidence by federal investigators, who obtained warrants to compel President’s Trump one-time fixer to use Touch ID and Face ID to unlock them.

The warrants were used during an FBI raid on Cohen’s home and office last year. Court documents with warrant details were made public this week.

Apple devices are considered the most secure and not as easy to hack, which often puts the tech company at odds with law enforcement. In many cases, investigators seek the company’s help to search the content on seized devices.

Apple remains firm on protecting data privacy and has resisted government requests for the company to create back-door access for criminal investigators. In the 2017 case of the San Bernardino shooters, Apple refused to crack the iPhone of one of the attackers.

The FBI eventually paid a private hacker some $900,000 to open the iPhone, but found little useable evidence. Apple did give unspecified assistance to the FBI in accessing encrypted data from the iPhone of the attacker involved in a church shooting in Texas that same year.

In the case of Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, authorities sought court authorization to press Cohen’s fingers on sensors of “Subject Devices, or hold the Subject Devices in front of Cohen’s face” to open them, according to a CNBC report.

The documents did not specify the devices.

Cohen has been cooperative in the investigation into possible campaign finance violations, including hush money payments to two women before the 2016 election.

Getting a warrant to force the accused to open their device is not exactly settled law. While investigators received the OK in the Cohen case, a federal judge earlier this year ruled against these types of warrants, saying they violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Source: CNBC