Divulging Password Violates 5th Amendment, Pa. Justices Say

Law360 (November 20, 2019, 9:19 PM EST) -- Pennsylvania state investigators can't force a defendant in a child pornography case to surrender the password to his encrypted computer because doing so would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the state's top court held Wednesday.

In a split 4-3 decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that Joseph Davis' 64-character computer password is "testimonial in nature" because it is contained within Davis' mind. Forcing him to disclose it would violate the Fifth Amendment's protections against self-incrimination, the justices ruled.

Investigators with the state attorney general's office had sought to unlock Davis' computer after learning that a user with an Internet Protocol address linked to...

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