McKenna on KIRO: Can gov’t force fingerprint to unlock phone?

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about a thorny case out of Minnesota, where a judge ordered a burglary suspect to provide his fingerprint to unlock his cell phone. The man appealed, arguing that doing so violated his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. A Minnesota appeals court ruled against him, saying that providing the fingerprint “is no more testimonial than furnishing a blood sample, providing handwriting or voice exemplars, standing in a lineup, or wearing particular clothing.”

Dave Ross: “So if somebody were to ask me to turn over all my crystal meth, my response should be, ‘You go try to find it, buddy.’”

Rob McKenna: “’You’ll never find it!’ That could be your response.”

Dave Ross: “And that’s why I could never be a very good criminal.”

Rob McKenna: “But this issue of passcodes and whether or not it violates the 5th Amendment to provide your passcode is still up in the air a little bit. The legal scholars are still debating it, judges are still wrestling with it.

“It just shows how challenging all these issues are in the digital age, when we’re trying to apply laws, statues, and constitutional principles that were written a long time ago, before people were thinking about the idea of digital evidence.”

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