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Comment That's not what they did though. (Score 1) 362

They went in and searched everyone's phones. Unless there's an important detail we aren't being told here, that's unconstitutional. The 4th amendment says "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The important part there is "particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." That is in there specifically to ban general search warrants. The idea is the police can't go to a judge and say "We think there is something illegal in a house somewhere in this 500 home neighbourhood, we'd like a warrant to search the houses," and the judge issues them a blanket warrant allowing them to search any home there, and look through anything in said home. That isn't allowed. They have to say specifically where it is they want to search, and what it is they are looking for, and also why they have probable cause to believe that what they are looking for is there.

If you read the article they say right at the bottom "I think it's very questionable whether the 4th Amendment" -- which protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizure -- "allows such an open-ended extension of the search warrant."

Comment 5th amendment and it would seem so yes (Score 3, Informative) 362

It isn't 100% clear, there is no cut and dried supreme court ruling and there have been some conflicting lower court rulings but in general the opinion of the courts seems to be that you can't be forced to hand over a password/code/etc because that is something in your head, which falls under 5th amendment protections against self incrimination.

The 4th amendment is what would be used to challenge a broad search warrant like was issued in this case. Without knowing the specifics I can't say for sure but this sounds like it would be an illegal search since it was a general warrant and that isn't allowed. The police aren't (supposed to be) able to get a warrant to just search anyone or anything in a given place, they have to be specific. This doesn't sound like it was, and so would probably be a 4th amendment violation.

Comment Re:Easy to get around (Score 1) 362

It's probably the difference between something you have, and something you know. The first is covered by the search warrant (the right to search and look at everything - including the fingerprint), the second not (you're not required to give information, e.g. on where to find things - and the password).

Comment Hold down power button and ... (Score 5, Informative) 362

... keep holding it down.

Seriously, this is such an unconscionable violation of basic privacy that even people who have done nothing wrong should automatically have that reaction. And anybody who has done something wrong should know better than to use a fingerprint for unlocking anyway. What was this supposed to prove other than that they have a judge who will rubber-stamp any order no matter how appalling?

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C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]