What you need to know
- A ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court came out Monday.
- It compelled a defendant to provide his phone's passcode to investigators.
- The ruling elevates the fight between law enforcement and privacy advocates.
Using a passcode instead of biometric authentication may no longer protect your data from law enforcement.
Reported by northjersey.com, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Monday that a criminal defendant can be forced to provide the passcode to their phone to investigators. The court rejected the argument from the defense that this violated one's rights against self-incrimination guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The court ruled in favor of the state prosecutors who said that, since the defendant provided the information contained within the device during questioning, that he should be required to provide access to the phone due to the "foregone conclusion exception" to the Fifth Amendment.
Charles J. Sciarra of Clifton, the attorney for the defendant, says that the decision sets a dangerous precedent that could allow law enforcement to more easily invade people's privacy.
Megan Iorio, counsel for the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, however, says that the ruling only allows law enforcement to operate under a microscope and does not have the wide-ranging impacts that most fear.
Previous rulings have allowed law enforcement to force people to authenticate their phones to allow access using biometrics like Face ID, so many in the privacy space have recommended only having a passcode set to protect your data. This latest ruling, however, could begin to put that kind of protection at risk as well.
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Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.