Man Jailed for Not Unlocking iPhone, Despite Getting Warrant Order to Do So

A man being investigated in a child abuse case was jailed for refusing to unlock his iPhone.  He appealed the case and lost in a Massachusetts appeals court.  The court determined that the order requiring the man to unlock his phone does not fall within “constitutional self-incrimination protection.”

Man can be jailed for refusing to unlock phone, Mass. Appeals Court decides

A man can be jailed for refusing to unlock his iPhone for a grand jury investigating him in a child abuse case, despite constitutional protections against self-incrimination, the Massachusetts Appeals Court said in a ruling issued Monday.

Little was revealed about the case except that it was a Middlesex County grand jury investigating a man on suspicion of assault and battery against two children and additional details. Like most grand jury investigations, most of the information in the case has remained secret.

The man, who was not identified, contended that he shouldn’t have to obey a judge’s order to enter the PIN on his iPhone and unlock it so that it can be searched, because the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects him against self-incrimination.
But the Appeals Court ruled otherwise.

“(T)he order does not require the petitioner to communicate information that would fall within constitutional self-incrimination protection. The affidavit in support of the search warrant application established that the commonwealth had probable cause to believe that the iPhone contained evidence of the crimes that are the subject of the grand jury investigation. The order simply allows execution of that warrant,” the court wrote.


Were his ‘rights’ violated?  If this case is allowed to stand, what other grounds could the state use to justify locking you up for not unlocking your cell phone?  I don’t know if the man intends to appeal, but, if he doesn’t, it looks like we have floating out there a precedent that can easily be used to ‘justify’ courts forcing people to unlock all kinds of electronic devices, including digital currency wallets.

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