PA Supreme Court Rules Government Cannot Compel Suspect to Disclose Password

November 20, 2019

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled today that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination prevents the government from requiring a suspect to divulge their computer passcode. The court found that "compelling the disclosure of a password to a computer" is testimonial, and that a limited exception to the Fifth Amendment privilege does not apply to passwords. EPIC filed an amicus brief in a similar case in the New Jersey Supreme Court. EPIC argued in State v. Andrews that the Fifth Amendment exception should be limited because it predated the vast amounts of personal data stored on computers and telephones. EPIC cited the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decisions in Riley v. California and Carpenter v. United States. EPIC has long filed amicus briefs arguing that constitutional protections should keep pace with advances in technology.

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