Jailed ex-sergeant loses contempt case over device passwords

Written by The Associated Press | Mar 21, 2017 5:26 AM

(Philadelphia) _ A federal appeals court has rejected a fired police sergeant's argument that he has a Fifth Amendment right not to turn over computer passwords in a child-porn investigation.

Former Philadelphia officer Francis Rawls has been jailed for contempt for 18 months amid the appeal. He has not been charged with a crime.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court ruling Monday says police had evidence of child pornography on other devices.

They say Rawls therefore would not be incriminating himself by helping them access the encrypted material.

Senior Staff Attorney Mark Rumold of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who argued the case, disagrees.

He says no one has to provide the government with content from their minds.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella says Rawls will sit in jail until he's ready to cooperate.

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