In a ruling that could have a significant impact on technology-related criminal cases, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination extends to prohibiting law enforcement from forcing a defendant to give up passwords for electronic devices.
The court ruled 4-3 to overturn a state Superior Court ruling to the contrary in the case of Commonwealth v. Davis, in which defendant Joseph Davis faces child pornography charges. The question the high court considered was whether a person can be “compelled to disclose orally the memorized password to a computer over his invocation of privilege under the Fifth Amendment.”
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