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Posted on 5th May 2017
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I totally agree with the Florida judge in the case reported here, by the BBC.
"Reality TV star Hencha Voigt and former boyfriend, Wesley Victor, are accused of threatening to release explicit images of social media star Julieanna Goddard unless she paid a ransom."
Their iPhones are suspected not only to contain the material used for the blackmail, but were used in the commission of that blackmail (to send the blackmailing messages). As such they are material evidence in the case.
The accused have pleaded the 5th Amendment (the right to refuse to incriminate themselves), but the judge is having none of it, and has ordered them to divulge their passwords. "For me, this is like turning over a key to a safety deposit box," he said on Wednesday. Good for him!
If he had let the 5th Amendment defence stand, it would have weakened the rights of law enforcement to seize evidence of all kinds: safes, bank account statements, documents, etc. which would have put law enforcement on a slippery slope.
Just to be clear, cases like this are not the same as US customs and immigration demanding to search phones and laptops when people are entering the USA. Searches at borders are not based on any evidence nor related to any law enforcement cases, and are therefore totally unjust.