Court rules smartphone passwords protected by the Fifth Amendment and you don’t have to give them to police


We hope you’re never in a situation where you ever find yourself in police custody, but if for some reason you do end up detained, it may behoove you to know that — according to a new Pennsylvania court ruling — you don’t have to give your phone’s passcode to officers.

Apparently, US District Judge Mark Kearny believes this violates the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits forcing people to self-incriminate. The same goes for work-issued smartphones since the passcodes aren’t corporate record. That’s actually where this mess started, with the Securities and Exchange Commission requesting 2 former Capital One data analysts accused of insider trading to turn over their smartphones’ passwords.

Here’s where things get weird. As we told you guys back in October of last this year, only alphanumeric passcodes are protected by the Fifth Amendment — fingerprint locks… well, not so much. A court in Virginia ruled that suspects could be made to provide their physical fingerprints to unlock their phone because it wasn’t asking them to reveal data in their head that only they would know. Crazy, right?

[Washington Post]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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