FBI Given Power To Unlock Capitol Riot Suspect Phone With His Fingerprint

In a bid to get more information on the activities of a man accused of attending the January 6 Capitol Hill riot and attacking police with pepper spray, the FBI used one of its more controversial investigative techniques. On February 4, agents got a warrant allowing them to enter the suspect’s residence in Uniontown, Pennsylvania and open devices inside with his fingerprint, face or other biometric login. Once inside, they discovered that the defendant – Peter Schwartz – had a Samsung S10 that he opened with his thumbprint, which the FBI was permitted to use to open his phone.

As the government put it in a search warrant reviewed by Forbes: “Pursuant to the language in the warrant authorizing use of biometrics to unlock digital devices on premises, FBI agents used Schwartz’s fingerprint to unlock the Samsung Galaxy S10 cellular telephone.” The FBI is now hoping to get a full extraction of data from the phone, having admitted to an “oversight” in February by failing to forensically search the device at the time. Agents did, however, review messages on Schwartz’s phone, which included photos from the Capitol Hill event and claims he and others were willing to die during the riot, according to the warrant.

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