A District Court in Pennsylvania ruled today, that a passcode that locks a smartphone is protected by the fifth amendment to the constitution. This amendment protects a person from being forced to incriminate him or herself in a criminal case. We’ve all seen those cheesy Perry Mason episodes or movies where the defendant tells the wily D.A. that he is “pleading the fifth.”
The case in Pennsylvania revolves around two Capital One analysts accused of insider trading. The government believed that the evidence of this crime was hidden inside the defendants’ phones, and requested that they turn over the passcodes so that the handsets could be unlocked. The employees refused, and the matter became a separate legal issue.