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back to article Don't panic, Florida Man, but a judge just said you have to give phone passcodes to the cops

A Florida state court has ruled that suspected crims can be forced to hand over their smartphone passcodes to cops and other investigators. Generally in America, you don't have to hand over your passcodes and passwords to the police – because this information is considered personal knowledge, and divulging it is therefore self …

  1. ratfox

    I'm surprised that this could stand. Though the judge likened it to turning over the key to a security box, it is much more like revealing the combination of a safe, which has historically been considered protected by the fifth amendment.

    The distinction between a physical key and a combination might well seem a bit absurd, but that's how it has been up to now. I wonder what the supreme court would say.

    1. kain preacher

      This is not the first time this has happened. There is a guy that has been sitting in a federal jail cell for 19 months for refusing to hand over the password to his computer. Ruight now it looks like they plan on holding him indefinitely.

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160428/07395434297/so-much-fifth-amendment-man-jailed-seven-months-not-turning-over-password.shtml

      1. Potemkine Silver badge

        Ruight now it looks like they plan on holding him indefinitely.

        At least he won't be let dying of thirst

    2. Youngone

      Yes, there is an awful lot going on here.

      First of all, there will be appeals for Africa, if the defendants can afford it, as another commentard has pointed out justice is not free in the US (just as it is for the wealthy only where I live).

      Also, there is such a thing as a SnapChat celebrity? Wow, I should get out more.

      Also, the picture at the top of TFA is wrong. As everyone knows Florida's slogan is not "The Sunshine State", it's "America's Penis".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This:

        "Also, there is such a thing as a SnapChat celebrity? Wow, I should get out more".

        No, there isnt. They are not celebrities at all. In any way, shape, form or function.

        Dont go out more, it'll only make you realise what a fucked up world we live in.

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    The judge/prosecutors/cops are hoping the accused don't have enough money to appeal, as this would plainly be overturned.

    America has justice, if you can afford it.

    1. entropyk48

      Justice?

      @Gene Cash-Yes there are hard cash ways to "justice", although escaping punishment is not necessarily justice, and the more you spend the less justice is served, in my experience.

  3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Misleading

    When I read the articles that made this article, it seems that it's actually the prosecuting state attorney demanding specific evidence required for a trial. It's not a matter of arresting officers trying to unlock your phone to see what bad stuff you've been up to. There's a big difference in how the information on the phone can be used.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Misleading

      So it wouldn't set a new standard?

      In the same way that mobster era rules about proving large stacks of cash were legit, eventually allowed local cops to legally steal from anyone black buying a car for cash

      1. Aladdin Sane

        Re: Misleading

        Previously they did it illegally.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fingerprint unlocking...

    Solution: Don't use your finger. Use an alternate appendage if you have one.

    1. LaeMing
      Go

      Re: Fingerprint unlocking...

      Considering the habit in some less-savory parts of the world of cutting off the required appendage... possibly not!

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Fingerprint unlocking...

      <blockquoteUse an alternate appendage</blockquote>

      Alternate? It's hot-swappable?

      1. deathOfRats

        Re: Fingerprint unlocking...

        <moreblockquote><blockquoteUse an alternate appendage</blockquote>

        Alternate? It's hot-swappable?</moreblockquote>

        As of the research I've been doing... it seems like yes, it could be.

        Though maybe not in the sense you might have been thinking of, mind you...

  5. Palpy

    I'll leave the final ruling to --

    -- actual judges. It seems tricky.

    In USA, police can enter and search your house if they have a warrant. They can open and read any mail they find. In the case of a safe, they can ask you to open it, and if you refuse then they can have a locksmith go to work on it. Or have it cut open.

    So if the cell phone contains the equivalent of personal correspondence -- mail -- then a warrant allows them to open it. Or if it is equivalent to a safe, then they can indeed ask you to open it, or else have it cut open. Open it and you may get points for cooperating with the investigation; make them break it open and you get no points and you still get pwned.

    However, the contents of the phone are not like the contents of your memory. They can't legally search your memory, ie, by waterboarding you until you "remember" anything they tell you to remember. And the passphrase for the phone is in your memory. Or, if a bishop, it's tattooed on the back of your neck.

    So I don't find the situation clear enough to pretend I know the answer.

    Oh, and Yet Another AC: speaking of mobster-era seizure rules, most US states right now allow the police to seize cash and property if they merely suspect (or pretend to suspect) that said cash and goods were obtained illegally. They don't have to give it back if the owner is never arrested or charged with a crime, either. Your unexplained cash wad is all profit for the boys in blue.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll leave the final ruling to --

      "They can't legally search your memory, ie, by waterboarding you until you "remember" anything they tell you to remember. "

      I believe a certain orange person is in favour of making this technique legal.

    2. Brangdon

      Re: I'll leave the final ruling to --

      The equivalent to cutting open a safe would be cracking the phone PIN. No-one denies a warrant will give them the legal right to do that. However, if the phone's security is such that the PIN cannot reasonably be cracked, it doesn't help them.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll leave the final ruling to --

      Not that I disagree with you, but I'm waiting for somebody to argue that the passcode "1234" itself is not incriminating, only the stuff it grants access to might be, so it itself is not protected. (Which is why I always set my passphrase to "I'm the one who shot JFK".)

  6. Mike Green

    RE: I'll leave the final ruling to...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kEpZWGgJks

    This law was brought in post 911, and the amount seized? 2.5 BILLION in one program alone, just in cash, from people WHO WEREN'T CHARGED WITH A CRIME. It's basically legalised robbery by the cops, and the proceeds go to who? The police, for 'law enforcement purposes'. This apparently can include buying new coffee machines... It's a nice racket!

    1. entropyk48

      Re: RE: I'll leave the final ruling to...

      {This law was brought in post 911,) - This law was in existence well before 9/11. Probably enhanced and broadened, though.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry your honour

    I changed my password just as the Police came a-knocking.

    I didn't get a chance to memorise it, what with the stress of being arrested and all...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happens if you hold out on your pass code/word till the phone eventually dies? 4-5 years?

    1. Bucky 2

      @AC

      What happens if you hold out on your pass code/word till the phone eventually dies? 4-5 years?

      I believe the maximum lifetime, as measured by phone vendors, is 3 years. This is assuming you buy it the moment the model is released.

  9. James 51
    Childcatcher

    In the UK of course they'd convict them of not handing the password over and put them in prison. Then when their sentence is up, rinse and repeat.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remote wipe.....

    Just sayin'

    1. CraPo

      Re: Remote wipe.....

      Faraday cage.

      Just saying

      1. P. Lee

        Re: Remote wipe.....

        >Faraday cage.

        What we want is a duress PIN. Wipes local data.

        Er, sorry officer I got them mixed up.

        1. Flakk

          Re: Remote wipe.....

          Yep, or a TrueCrypt-like secondary container.

        2. Old Handle

          Re: Remote wipe.....

          Hmm... Don't iPhones already have a wipe after X failed attempts feature? (Though it may be optional) So what if she just gives them X wrong pins one after the other?

      2. theN8

        Re: Remote wipe.....

        A microwave for 2 minutes would do just fine in a pinch.

  11. Cook942

    Memory loss

    I'm sorry I've forgotten my passcode, now prove I'm lying

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Memory loss

      Or I can just imprison you indefinitely for contempt of court until you remember

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Preload x-1 failed password attempts...

    where x is the number of failed password attempts to cause a data wipe. Then give them the incorrect passcode 1 last time... Now how the hell did THAT happen?

  13. MatsSvensson

    K, officer,

    got your pen ready?

    Mine is:

    3...

    1...

    4...

    1...

    5...

    9...

    2...

    6...

    5...

    3...

    5...

    8...

    9...

    7...

    9...

    3...

    2...

    3...

    1. NiteDragon

      Now I fancy a Pie. <sigh>

  14. bleedinglibertarian

    I don't recall

    After all the time that has passed since the evil Judge Johnson minions started their trampling of the constitution, the poor bloke now has to fall back on good old Reagon's line... " I can't recall"..

    Stupid judge.

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