FBI Forced an iPhone X Owner to Unlock their Device with Face ID

In what is believed to be the first known case in the world in which a law enforcement agency used Face ID to forcefully access a suspect’s iPhone, the FBI forced a 28-year-old Ohio resident to unlock his iPhone X with his face while searching his house on August 10, Forbes is reporting.


Grant Michalski from Columbus, who would later that month be charged with receiving and possessing child pornography, was told by a federal investigator with a search warrant in hand to put his face in front of the phone. Michalski duly complied, allowing the agent to go through the suspect’s online chats, photos, and some other private information.

“Traditionally, using a person’s face as evidence or to obtain evidence would be considered lawful,” said Jerome Greco, staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society.

When David Knight, the special agent with the FBI, obtained Michalski’s cell and required the suspect to place his face in front of the device, instantly opening it, there were various items of interest inside, according to an affidavit for a search warrant of that iPhone X.

There were conversations over chat app Kik Messenger in which users discussed abuse of minors, according to the affidavit’s narrative. It was later discovered that Michalski had used Kik previously to talk with an undercover officer posing as a father interested in sex with children, Knight wrote.

While Knight said he wasn’t able to get all the information he wanted from the iPhone, including app use and deleted files, whatever he did get he documented by taking pictures.