The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution bars people from being forced to turn over personal passwords to police, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled this week.
In a 4-3 ruling, justices from Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned a lower-court order that required the suspect in a child-pornography case to turn over a 64-character password to his computer. The lower-court ruling had held that the compelled disclosure didn’t violate the defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights because of statements he made to police during questioning.
“It’s 64 characters and why would I give that to you,” Joseph J. Davis of Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County told investigators in response to their request for his password. “We both know what’s on there. It’s only going to hurt me. No fucking way I’m going to give it to you.”