Ever wonder why the iPhone and iPad ask you to type in your regular PIN or password when you fail to unlock your device with Touch ID? There are several reasons Apple has this failsafe mechanism in place, including a clever trick that was added only recently. The purpose of this new line of defense is to ensure that nobody can access your data. Why? You guessed it — it’s there in case a court tries to compel you to provide your fingerprint to unlock a device.
According to MacWorld. Apple recently modified the contents of an iOS security document that explains the reasons why a regular PIN or password unlock is requested after a failed fingerprint unlock.
The document covers the various scenarios where iOS won’t allow a fingerprint to unlock the phone. An iPhone or iPad will ask for a PIN/password when the device is turned on or restarted, when the device has not been unlocked for 48 hours, when it receives a remote lock command, when setting up new fingers for Touch ID or after five unsuccessful fingerprint scans.
But now, the phone also asks for the password when “the passcode has not been used to unlock the device in the last six days, and Touch ID has not unlocked the device in the last eight hours.”
Courts have begun ordering suspects to provide their fingerprints to unlock iPhones. Apparently, fingerprints aren’t protected under The Fifth Amendment in the same way passwords are.
While this new exception will ensure that law enforcement can’t unlock the iPhone with your fingerprint following a court order – unless they’re really quick about it – it’s also an inconvenient feature. It means that whenever you sleep or do anything else for more than eight hours without the phone, you’re going to have to type in your password.