Published: Fri, August 18, 2017
Electronics | By Jesus Weaver

IOS 11 has a 'cop button' to temporarily disable Touch ID

IOS 11 has a 'cop button' to temporarily disable Touch ID

A new addition to iOS's beta software contains a quick way to disable Touch ID on a user's phone, deactivating the fingerprint scanner that makes it easier for law enforcement to access phone data.

This new setting (being called a "cop button") is now in beta and seems to be designed as a way to automate emergency service calls, as well. The Verge first reported this "iOS 11 cop button", which appears to be a super quick way to disable Touch ID when you think you might be physically forced to unlock your smartphone. The option doesn't automatically dial the emergency services by default but provides the user with the option to and it also disables the Touch ID fingerprint sensor temporarily until the passcode is entered.

As the law stands now, law enforcement are allowed to force smartphone access by compelling a user to unlock via biometrics, like Touch ID or facial recognition, but can not force a user to unlock a device by passcode entry. Given Apple's previous stance supporting user encryption and privacy from law enforcement, this seems aimed at helping users who may be forced into unlocking their phones.

iOS has long required the passcode for unlocking a device after a reboot.

With plenty of controversy surrounding the rights of citizens and the legal implications of police forcing individuals to unlock their phones with their fingerprints - or even using a person's prints against their will - it's an extremely powerful feature.

This feature now only affects Touch ID in the iOS 11 public beta, but it's possible that a similar feature could roll out if Apple introduces facial-recognition unlocking in the next iPhone.

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