According to the reports, the FBI, under the orders of a Los Angeles court, forced a woman to unlock an iPhone equipped with Apple‘s Touch ID fingerprint technology.

Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan was accused of identity theft early this year and was sentenced on Feb.25, reported the Los Angeles Time. U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Rosenberg approved a warrant forcing the Touch ID unlock right after the woman was taken into custody.

The iPhone was confiscated from a home in Glendale belonging to Sevak Mesrobian, a member of the Armenian Power gang, who’s in prison since February 12. He is Bkhchadzhyan’s boyfriend. Photo credit: CNET

This isn’t the first time U.S. court officials have ordered someone to unlock a device with their fingerprint, but these kind of incidents are still rare and controversial. The FBI managed to crack an iPhone before, but when it comes to Touch ID devices, which have a “Secure Enclave”, is almost impossible to make hardware detours around encryption.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney, Vicki Chou, the search was part of an ongoing investigation. On the other side, the attorney who previously represented Bkhchadzhyan and Mesrobian, George Mgdesyan, indicated that is possible that the FBI is looking into hacking and “other issues.”

Fingerprints don’t normally require warrants, but things get complicated when they serve as a “key” to access personal information. According to some critics, by doing so, FBI is violating the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination, which establishes that no one can be forced to supply a passcode.

The FBI and Apple face each other in a legal stand-off

Recently, the federal agency issued a court order on Apple, compelling it to create a backdoor tool to access the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. After Apple refused, the FBI searched for another way to hack the iPhone, and they did it.

On Wednesday, a bureau spokesman said that FBI will not publically divulge the mechanism used to unlock the iPhone linked to San Bernardino’s shooter. However, the FBI is expected to write to the White House explaining why the agency can not share the unlocking mechanism with other government agencies, Apple or other third parties.

“By its nature, the process by which the government considers whether to disclose or not disclose vulnerabilities must maintain confidentiality,” said FBI Director, James Comey.

Comey affirmed that the FBI is having discussions with the government to decide whether to tell Apple the details about the flaw they found. He noted that the issue is that if they tell Apple, the company will fix the bug and they’ll be back to where they started, which is not convenient for the investigation they’re running.

Source: Apple Insider