US JUDGES have set two different precedents in cases where a suspect has refused to give the PIN to unlock their mobile phone when asked to do so by authorities.
The Miami Herald reports that a Hollywood resident has been jailed for 180 days after the number he provided police with did not work.
Christopher Wheeler, 41, was being investigated for child abuse and a judge found him in contempt of court, despite insisting he had given the right number.
"I swear, under oath, I've given them the password," said Wheeler, who is said to have 'hit and scratched' his daughter. Wheeler has been told he will be let out on bond, pending an appeal, but only if he provides a working passcode.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Miami, Florida, a separate extortion allegation provided a similar dilemma, but in this case, a judge ruled that there was no way of proving that the accused, Wesley Victor could remember his PIN, a full ten months after his arrest.
The accused's girlfriend, reality TV star Hench Voigt, also implicated in the plot, has "forgotten" her PIN too and will explain herself to the judge next week. The couple are accused of trying to blackmail a social media celebrity (an oxymoron, surely) called YesJulz (!) out of $18,000 over some alleged sex tapes they may or may not have.
The argument stems from the Fifth Amendment - the right to remain silent - which also covers the right not to self-incriminate, however, in the case of all three accused, amnesia, rather than "pleading the Fifth" is the defence.
The judge in the extortion case told the couple: "For me, this is like turning over a key to a safe-deposit box," with the police citing a precedent set in an earlier case of a suspected video voyeur.
This is all going to get ironed out at the Supreme Court eventually, but, at present, it's another example of a law that has been overtaken by the technology that covers it.
Passcodes are far from secure in any case, with iPhone codes bypassed en masse, and quite easily, as recently as last year.
US authorities are considering making travellers enter the country unlock their phone on demand at passport control too. There are unconfirmed reports that some people have already been asked to do so on internal flights.
The stupid thing is, all a potential terrorist would have to do to avoid this is to carry two phones, and put the one with their plans for world domination in the hold. µ
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