Computer Password Protected by the 4th Amendment or the 5th or Neither?

  1. Greg Bernhardt

    Staff: Admin

    Can the government compel you to provide your computer password if they think there is illicit material stored in an encrypted part of the hard drive? *If there was ever a case when it seemed like the Constitution was no … Continue reading →[​IMG]

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    Last edited: Mar 3, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. turbo

    turbo 7,366
    Gold Member

    Re: Is Your Computer Password Protected by the 4th Amendment or the 5th or Neither?

    Not just "the government". You can be compelled to offer up your PC for a search if you are involved in a civil suit.
     
  4. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Is Your Computer Password Protected by the 4th Amendment or the 5th or Neither?

    Sure if they've got a warrant they can demand access to anything the warrant specifies.
     
  5. turbo

    turbo 7,366
    Gold Member

    Re: Is Your Computer Password Protected by the 4th Amendment or the 5th or Neither?

    I was suing a crook for back-pay, and he counter-sued for $650,000, and the court let him have a warrant to search my PC because I had used it at home to deal with customers. It was a fishing expedition that yielded nothing of use to him, but it was still a big pain in the butt.
     
  6. Re: Is Your Computer Password Protected by the 4th Amendment or the 5th or Neither?

    I imagine that one could theoretically be subpoenaed to provide such information, however, I think it could also constitute self incrimination, in which case, they could not compel a person to provide passwords.
     
  7. Re: Is Your Computer Password Protected by the 4th Amendment or the 5th or Neither?

    Let's not forget that the expressed purpose of the Fifth Amendment was to prevent the torturing of prisoners. Making it a crime to fail to give up a password and sentencing a defendant to prison is essentially the same thing.

    - There was a recent decision by the seventh circuit court of appeals that enables the police to search cell phones without a warrant.

    - Even forcing a suspect to take a drug test, alcohol test or DNA test is problematic. How are any of these not a form of testifying against oneself? Calling driving a privilege and agreeing to providing a sample as part of that privilege doesn't resolve the problem. Suppose a law were passed that made owning a house a privilege and before buying a house, prospective owners had to sign a statement permitting the police to conduct searches without a warrant?
     
  8. nsaspook

    nsaspook 1,133
    Science Advisor

  9. All passwords are protected by a bad memory.
    You can't be forced to give information you can't remember, can you?
     
  10. Re: Is Your Computer Password Protected by the 4th Amendment or the 5th or Neither?

    Had you refused to provide your password, assuming you had one, what would the court have done? Hold you in contempt? Dismiss the case? Decided in favor of the defendant? Did you consider invoking the 4th or 5th amendments?
     
  11. Re: Is Your Computer Password Protected by the 4th Amendment or the 5th or Neither?

    Yes. And, also, without the Fifth Amendment, a suspect can be forced to incriminate one's self for a crime not committed.
     
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