U.S. court rules that phone passcodes are protected by the 5th Amendment, but fingerprints aren’t

touch-id

While Touch ID makes sense for most of us as a secure and convenient way to protect our phones, there is one group of people who may want to stick to good old-fashioned passcodes: criminals.

A Virginia District Court has ruled that while phone passcodes are protected by the 5th Amendment, which says that those accused of crimes cannot be compelled to incriminate themselves, there is no such protection against using a suspect’s fingerprint to unlock a phone …  Read more

Police officer reports son for fraud after Apple refuse to refund £3,700 App Store spending spree

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A police officer in the U.K. named Doug Crossan reported his own 13-year-old son for fraud after Apple refused to refund £3,700 that the child ran up playing freemium App Store titles on his iPad. DailyMail has the story:

Cameron then racked up more than 300 purchases on games such as Plants vs Zombies, Hungry Shark, Gun Builder, Nova 3. Many of them are free to download but users can buy in-game extras – in one game Cameron had purchased a virtual chest of gold coins costing £77.98.

But the technology company has refused and his only way of recouping the money is to report the purchases as being fraudulent. So Mr Crossan, of Clevedon, North Somerset, has shopped Cameron to the Action Fraud helpline – meaning his son could face arrest and questioning by the his father’s colleagues. He said: ‘I am sure Cameron had no intention to do it, but I had to have a crime reference number if there was any chance of getting any credit card payments refunded.

We reported last week that Apple was adding a new “offers in-app purchases” warning in the App Store to better inform consumers downloading free apps that additional content will require a fee. The move followed a settling a class action lawsuit that alleged children were able to rack up thousands of dollars through the iOS freemium model, i.e. in-app purchases, with both parents and children under the impression that the games were free. Apple is refusing to refund Crossan, citing “parental responsibility and pointing out that iPads contain password locks to prevent accidental or unwanted purchases.”

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Find My iPhone helps police arrest an armed robbery suspect

LA Times reports that Apple’s Find My iPhone app was used to assist in the arrest of an armed robbery suspect last Thursday. The male suspect entered a female’s home at gun point and took her purse, which held her beloved iPhone inside. The suspect left the home, and thought the coast was clear.

However, the victim then called police and remembered that she had Find My iPhone and notified them. Luckily for her, a random citizen on the street let police use his laptop to track the suspect down via Apple’s website. The officers later found the man and he was arrested on robbery charges. The LAPD told the LA Times how crucial it is to have tracking software installed whenever possible:

LAPD officials say computer and phone theft is a major contributor to crime in Los Angeles, and the theft — and its outcome — illustrate the value and benefit of using tracking applications and software for computers, cellphones and portable tablets.

Find My iPhone was also used in September to help sift through the wreckage in the terribly sad Chilean plane crash. Find My iPhone has important use cases everyday, and we’re glad to see the poor woman got her items back. This is a great reminder that you should have it installed (and to criminals to pass on taking Apple devices!)

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Watch out! Using Siri while driving is still illegal in California

MercuryNews was told by the San Jose Police that using Siri while driving is illegal. The San Jose Police Luitenant said that the actual act of talking to Siri isn’t illegal, but it’s the part when you use you’re hands to navigate through its functionality when things start getting setup for a nice ticket.

“It’s legal to talk to Siri, as long as the phone’s not in your hand,” says San Jose police Lt. Chris Monahan. “But if you have to push the phone to activate her, or if you ask for directions and she puts them up on her screen for you to read, then California’s hands-free law says your’re breaking the law.”

Where it gets murky is that the iPhone is also a GPS device and it isn’t illegal to use your fingers to use GPS devices, especially one that is mounted to your dashboard. Let’s just say: keep it safe.

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Apple executives knew Jobs’ condition at iPhone 4S Launch

According to Palo Alto police department spokeswoman Sandra Brown (via Bloomberg), Apple executives may have known Steve Jobs’ condition at the time of the iPhone 4S launch event. Apple informed police that Steve Jobs passing was close, days before Apple’s official statement confirming he had passed.

As a result of the meeting, police apparently put plans in place for officers to patrol Jobs’ home after the news of his passing had broke. Of course this was to keep crowds under control when Jobs’ supporters inevitably visited his home following the news. From the report:

The Apple representatives told the police department there was “a possibility that it could happen this week,” Brown said in a phone interview. “It’s common sense for us to work together. If you think about who he was and his contribution to the world, people might come out in masses.”

Apple was apparently supposed to inform police of his death before issuing a public statement, but according to Brown, police found out through Apple’s press release on October 5th.

According to the WSJ, Jobs’ funeral is today.

Many have speculated that the empty chair marked “Reserved” next to Apple execs at the recent iPhone 4S unveiling may have been a silent tribute to Jobs. Long time Jobs confidant Jony Ive (they were so close many called the two ‘Jive’) was notably absent from the event.

Cook, Cue, Schiller and Forstall, though subdued, were nevertheless somehow able to put on a great show in the face of knowing their mentor and boss for over a decade was in bad condition.

SFPD wants surveillance footage in the lost iPhone case

CNET reported this afternoon that the SFPD has asked for surveillance footage from Cava 22, the bar where an Apple employee apparently lost the unannounced iPhone. The SFPD asked to see footage from the dates of July 21st and 22nd, not when the iPhone left the bar, but as part of their investigation to see how officers assisted Apple in the search of a home that was believed to have the iPhone inside.

The SFPD told CNET:

Lt. Troy Dangerfield, a spokesman for SFPD, said he wasn’t aware that investigators had gone to the bar or were looking for the videos. But he said that since Apple had not filed a police report, he was sure that there was no criminal investigation connected to the missing device. “In order for there to be a crime, you need a victim,” Dangerfield said. He concluded that the request by police for the surveillance footage was likely part of the internal review launched this month by department officials into how police assisted Apple in a search of a home on July 24.

The investigation into the investigation is becoming bigger than the original. It won’t matter in a few weeks however.

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SFPD launches investigation into how officers assisted Apple in search of missing iPhone

In search of the missing iPhone, a man claimed Apple came to his home impersonating police to conduct a search. It was later reported by SFWeekly that Apple didn’t impersonate officers, and was rather accompanied by four member of the San Francisco Police Department, as two Apple security guards entered the home. Interestingly, there was no police report filed as such. Today however, Cnet is reporting that the SFPD has begun an investigation to determine what role the officers actually played in the search.

Lt. Troy Dangerfield, of the San Francisco Police Department told CNET today that an internal investigation has begun into learning how officers assisted two Apple security employees search a home for the handset in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood in July.

There’s definitely some sketchy areas around this case that we’d like to be uncovered, and we’ll let you know when we hear more. Check out SFPD’s statement from this weekend after the break:

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No, Apple did not impersonate police: SFPD assisted in search for iPhone 5 (Updated)

Update: The SFPD has given Cnet a full statement:

After speaking with Apple representatives, we were given information which helped us determine what occurred. It was discovered that Apple employees called Mission Police station directly, wanting assistance in tracking down a lost item. Apple had tracked the lost item to a house located in the 500 block of Anderson Street. Because the address was in the Ingleside Police district Apple employees were referred to Officers in the Ingleside district. Four SFPD Officers accompanied Apple employees to the Anderson street home. The two Apple employees met with the resident and then went into the house to look for the lost item. The Apple employees did not find the lost item and left the house.

The Apple employees did not want to make an official report of the lost item.

Earlier today, SF Weekly reported that a Bernan Heights man claimed Apple posed as police officers to search his house for the missing iPhone 5. SFWeekly is now reporting that their earlier report had some incorrect points, and that the San Francisco Police Department did assist Apple.

Contradicting past statements that no records exist of police involvement in the search for the lost prototype, San Francisco Police Department spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield now tells SF Weekly that “three or four” SFPD officers accompanied two Apple security officials in an unusual search of a Bernal Heights man’s home.

Four plain clothed police officers came to the house with two Apple security guards. During the search inside the home, the four police officers stood outside while the Apple security guards were inside. What is odd is that the police report wasn’t filed as such. We’re sure more is going to come out in terms of this case.