Indiana Supreme Court Says No to Compelled Decryption of Cell Phones

June 23, 2020

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled today that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination prevents law enforcement from compelling an individual to unlock their smartphone. The court declared that an exception to the Fifth Amendment did not apply because the government had not demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the files it intended to access. The court also questioned whether the exception should apply to cell phones at all because the type and amount of information cell phones contain make compelled production of their contents different than compelled production of physical documents, citing the Supreme Court’s decisions in Riley v. California and Carpenter v. United States. The court wrote that “the Supreme Court has hesitated to apply even entrenched doctrines to novel dilemmas, wholly unforeseen when those doctrines were created.” EPIC urged the New Jersey Supreme Court to adopt the same reasoning in State v. Andrews, arguing that, under Riley and Carpenter, individuals cannot be compelled to decrypt their cell phones unless the government has specific knowledge about the files it will access. The New Jersey court has not issued a ruling in the case.

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