With a legally obtained Warrant, the FBI Forced a Suspected Child Pornographer to Open his iPhone X using his Face
Note: Our report contains a copy of the Search Warrant the FBI used to force the suspect in a child pornography case to use his face to open his iPhone X
A cybersecurity report published yesterday by Forbes showed that federal agents in Ohio had forced an owner of an Apple iPhone X to open their device using Face ID by using a legal search warrant, a copy of which is presented below. The report claims that it's the first known case in which law enforcement used Apple Face ID facial recognition technology to open a suspect's iPhone. That's by any police agency anywhere in the world, not just in America. While the original search warrant was executed back in August it took until earlier this month to get the added warrant to search an iPhone X found at the scene.
The Forbes report stated that "The FBI searched the house of 28-year-old Grant Michalski, a Columbus, Ohio, resident who would later that month be charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. With a search warrant in hand, a federal investigator told Michalski to put his face in front of the phone, which he duly did. That allowed the agent to pick through the suspect's online chats, photos and whatever else he deemed worthy of investigation."
A few of the points made in the "Search and Seizure Warrant" presented in full in a SCRIBD document below are as follows:
The warrant was granted on September 19, 2018 at 2:08 pm as per the time entered on the warrant by Judge Elizabeth Preston. The warrant is clearly stating that the officers had the right to search the individuals' home for child porography. The warrant laid out what could be searched which included "Any and all computer software including programs to run operating systems, applications, utilities, compilers, interpreters and communications programs."
The search warrant also states that "Any and all files, documents, records, or correspondence, in any format or medium (including but not limited to, network, system, security, and user logs, databases, software registrations, data and meta data)…
Under "Attachement B" of the warrant it states that "Apple IPhone X with model # A1865 and an unknown serial number that was taken off of Grant Michalski' s person during the execution of a search warrant at 221 N. Front Street, Apartment 105, Columbus, Ohio 43215."
The identity listed in the Affidavit in support of a search warrant is David A. Knight, a special agent of the FBI.
In special agent Knight's account he notes under point #40: "On August 10, 2018, a search warrant was executed. Grant MICHALSKI was at the residence at the time that it was executed, and, pursuant to authorization provided in the search warrant, was required by law enforcement to place his face in front of an iPhone X that was found on MICHALSK.l's person when the search warrant was executed. The phone was unlocked pursuant to the facial recognition feature on the iPhone X, and your affiant was able to briefly review the contents of the phone."
Forbes noted in their report that "The case marks another significant moment in the ongoing battle between law enforcement and tech providers, with the former trying to break the myriad security protections put in place by the latter. Since the fight between the world's most valuable company and the FBI in San Bernardino over access to an iPhone in 2016, Forbes has been tracking the various ways cops have been trying to break Apple's protections." The report goes into some depth about the ongoing battle between law enforcement and Apple. To review the report click here.
NOTE: Our cover graphic contains an image taken from an Apple ad promoting Face ID