Federal Court Rules Government Cannot Compel a Person to Turn Over the Passcode to their Phone

Yesterday the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied the SEC's request to compel two bankers accused of insider trading to turn over the passcodes to their cell phones.  The SEC believed the phones contained evidence of the alleged insider trading.  The Court, however, ruled that the Fifth Amendment protected the two bankers from being compelled to turn over their passcode, as doing so was tantamount to testifying against oneself. 

The case, which will likely be appealed (some legal scholars have already stated their belief that the Court got the decision wrong), has interesting implications for government investigations going forward.  If passcode protecting your phone precludes the government from accessing it and any potentially incriminating information it contains, police and regulatory agencies may lose what is often a valuable source of evidence.

A copy of the Court's decision is available here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2015/09/Huang.pdf

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