Can a cell phone, locked w/a passcode, be 'unlocked' by emergency personnel?

Since the predominant ‘style’ of cell phone these days seems to be a smart phone, (as opposed to the old ‘flip phones’) with an exposed face/keyboard, most people lock the screen.
And if I’m not mistaken, they (or at least, I do) require a pass code/word in order to access any of the features, such as the phonebook/contact list. My SO seems to think that emergency personnel, namely hospital ER personnel, have a way to bypass or override the lock code in order to access the phonebook/contact list. Anybody have any knowledge of that?
The reason I bring this up is she asked me if I have her listed as the ‘ICE’ # on my new phone. (person to contact in case of emergency)
Before ‘smart phones’ came along, it was recommended to list a person as your ‘ICE’ so that emergency personnel would know who to call in the event that you were incapacitated.
Since I lock my phone with a pass code, I don’t think that it is necessary.
What say, the ‘teeming millions’? :confused:

I’ve never heard of such a thing.
It would render any password lock pretty useless, wouldn’t it? How long do you think it would take for that backdoor to be distributed everywhere?

I would doubt that emergency personnel have a way of bypassing the lock-code. That would make the feature pretty much useless.

My Motorola Razor has an emergency contacts button on the locked keypad itself where I can program in 3 contacts that can be called even without unlocking.

I don’t know about cell-phones. But I know a guy who manages a gated community in Houston. There’s a keypad at the entrance that requires a code to let you in. He once said that the police and fire departments have a universal code that’s programmed into all the keypads like that in the city.

I have a Blackberry that, if locked, displays three buttons on the screen, Unlock, Emergency, and Cancel. If I press the Emergency button a message states press the call button to make an emergency call. I’ve never pressed it, because for all I know it calls 911, and who needs the hassle. I could look up what it does, but I was never that interested, cause I’ve got the password. There is an option in security to disable the emergency button, so a random Blackberry may or may not have that available.

The point of the password is that nobody can access your personal data without it. AFAIK, even the manufacturer is not able to get around it without dissembling the phone.

And now you made me curious so I looked it up. It apparently goes directly to a 911 operator and turns on the GPS feature of your telephone.

Only someone who knows your passcode can unlock your phone.

That said, parts of your phone are accessible, per FCC regulation:

Smartphones don’t have ICE numbers? If I find your locked phone, I have no way to get a hold of one of your friends or relatives?

In Dallas, it’s a universal remote that unlocks all the gastes.

Not true. My son locked his phone than forgot the PW. I took it to a retail store and gave it to one of the ladies behind the counter. It took her all of five minutes to unlock the phone.

The down side is it had to be a factory reset. That said, eveything in the SIM card was still there.

My phone (Moto Bionic) also gives access to three numbers of my choosing, which are specifically listed as “emergency numbers”, from the locked screen. I believe it also has an option where I can write notes (allergies, medical conditions, whatever) that are accessible from the locked screen but I don’t really have a reason to use such a feature so maybe I’m thinking of a different phone.

None of this is relevant to me because I don’t use a password/connect the dots shape/PIN anyway.

The passcode only prevents access through the phone’s user interface, not through other connection options.

If somebody connects your phone to a computer, they can still browse your data unless it was encrypted. Whether they can access your contacts, I’m not sure, but other things like pictures should be easily accessible. They can also sometimes also disable the lock screen, depending on your phone.

Emergency responders likely don’t have the tools to do that, especially while they’re busy trying to save lives. Law enforcement sometimes does.

Yes, it calls 9-1-1. I answer several such calls every month. Callers state they just wanted to know what the button does. :smack:

I manage a gated community. That’s a different issue. They need access for ambulance and fire personnel for the communities welfare.

Right, but that was just refuting the idea that some sort of override code avaliable to emergency personnel would immediately leak out. Apparently they’re able to keep a lid on those gate codes, although if an emergency cell phone unlock code were world or nationwide there’d probably be a bigger chance of it leaking out.

Just to clarify here, you can get at the phone’s data if you do some sneaky stuff with the SDK. You can’t just plug in a usb cable to a locked phone and get the stuff off there, or at least you can’t on my Droid.

You can’t get on my BB via USB without a passcode either.

I can tell you that neither my fire fighter husband and nurse sister have some super secret password to get in to locked cell phones. It doesn’t exist.

You can change the words on your locked screen if you don’t have the ability to add emergency numbers as some people in this thread are able to do. Just change it from the default text (which is probably either blank or ‘Blackberry’ or something) to ‘ICE: (xxx) xxx-xxxx’ or similar.

Yep - my Droid X had that feature. I designated 3 of my contacts (my husband and two of my brothers) and while I didn’t test it all, I was able to call my husband from it with the phone still locked. And I could put a note with emergency information.

Colleagues who have Samsung phones could not find that feature on their phones. I did some noodling around and as far as I could tell, it was something provided only by Motorola (with some customization to their interface). My new phone (also Samsung) has no such thing. However I was able to change a setting to display some text on the lock screen, which I modified to include my husband’s phone number.

Of course the phone can’t be used to make that call, but at least there’s something.

Supposedly there are ICE apps that mimic the Motorola functionality but a coworker looked into it and said there were some issues.

There are apps that will let you add all sorts of functions to the lock screen.

She did not “unlock” the phone. She did a factory reset which also deletes/resets the passcode. This is the same thing your office helpdesk does when you call saying you’ve forgotten your password: they simply reset your password to a standard phrase (usually defined for the entire department) and provide you with that phrase.

Having unrestricted access to your personal data would create all sorts of liability issues for the carrier/manufacturer.

I can do this with my Samsung Galaxey Note 2. It’s a feature of the level of Android OS you have.