Florida Courts Made This Possible
According to the Consumerist, Florida court has ruled that police can now force you to give up your number combination on your phone. This comes despite other court rulings that call the action a violation of the 5th amendment.
The incident leading up to this decision came from a Florida man caught crouching down and sliding and illuminated phone below a woman’s skirt. The man ran away upon confrontation, but police later caught up to him after identifying his license plate number. At first the man was going to allow police to search his phone for the photos he allegedly took, but then decided against that and refused to give police his passcode.
Police came back with a warrant, but due to the 5th amendment the police could not force the man to reveal his phone passcode.
A similar case was debated when the FBI and Apple butted heads in the wake of the San Bernardino mass shooting. There are only 10,000 possible combinations between 0000 and 9999 that law enforcement could try, but after entering the wrong passcode more than 10 times the phone will premaritally erase any data stored in it.
The differences in the cases was that one suspect was still alive while police working the San Bernardino case couldn’t attempt to get the passcode from that suspect.
A trial judge denied the state’s motion to compel the man caught looking up women’s skirts to give up his passcode. Last week though the Florida Court of Appeal’s Second District reversed the finding.
“The information sought by the State, that which it would require [the defendant] to provide, is the passcode,” the opinion [PDF] reads, per the Consumerist.
“The state has not asked [him] to produce the photographs or videos on the phone … By providing the passcode, [he] would not be acknowledging that the phone contains evidence of video voyeurism. Moreover, although the passcode would allow the State access to the phone, and therefore to a source of potential evidence, the State has a warrant to search the phone — the source of evidence had already been uncovered.”
“We are not inclined to believe that the Fifth Amendment should provide greater protection to individuals who passcode protect their iPhones with letter and number combinations than to individuals who use their fingerprint as the passcode,” the opinion continues. “Compelling an individual to place his finger on the iPhone would not be a protected act; it would be an exhibition of a physical characteristic, the forced production of physical evidence, not unlike being compelled to provide a blood sample or provide a handwriting exemplar.”
“This is a case of surrender and not testimony,” it concludes.
All quotes are form the Consumerist.