FL court rules police can compel suspect to unlock cell phone

FL court rules police can compel suspect to unlock cell phone
Image: YouTube screen grab

[Ed. – The most disturbing aspect of this to me is the sentiment from Judge Black in the emphasized passage.  Author Liz Sheld is right: this must go to the Supreme Court.]

A Florida court has ruled that a man suspected of voyeurism using his iPhone must turn over his 4-digit passcode to police.

Even with a warrant, they couldn’t access the phone without the combination. A trial judge denied the state’s motion to force the man to give up the code, considering it equal to compelling him to testify against himself, which would violate the Fifth Amendment. But the Florida Court of Appeals’ Second District reversed that decision today, deciding that the passcode is not related to criminal photos or videos that may or may not exist on his iPhone.

Previously, courts have ruled that suspects must “give up” their fingerprints to unlock a phone, but not the combination or code.  The difference between the two lies in a distinction between physical evidence (like a fingerprint) and knowledge (like a phone code or password). …

“A defendant can be compelled to produce material evidence that is incriminating,” Justice Stevens said in the 1988 Doe decision. “But can he be compelled to use his mind to assist the prosecution in convicting him of a crime? I think not…”

But Judge Black disagrees because technological advances require broader government authority over citizens.

Continue reading →

Commenting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

You may use HTML in your comments. Feel free to review the full list of allowed HTML here.