A few days ago, the Justice Department agreed to settle the case, paying her $134,000 for her troubles. As with many settlements, this one includes the government insisting that the settlement is not an admission of any guilt for its actions — though it also leaves open that Arquiett could seek to get some attorneys’ fees as well. Both Facebook and Senator Leahy had criticized the government for this action, and the DOJ promised to review this kind of practice — though that review is still “ongoing.” Either way, in this case, the DOJ realized that it was best to just pay up rather than let the case go much further.
According to Judge Steven C. Fucci, while a criminal defendant can’t be compelled to hand over a passcode to police officers for the purpose of unlocking a cellular device, law enforcement officials can compel a defendant to give up a fingerprint.
The Fifth Amendment states that “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” which protects memorized information like passwords and passcodes, but it does not extend to fingerprints in the eyes of the law, as speculated by Wired last year.
A team of CHP officers is now under investigation for a years-long “game” in which they stole and traded private photos from the phones of women they arrested.
It was created surreptitiously by a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, who seized Prince’s phone in July 2010 after arresting her, mined it for photographs, then used those pictures to forge a fraudulent profile which allowed authorities to impersonate Prince in an investigation into an alleged New York drug ring. Until, of course, Prince found out — and sued.
The result is an ongoing New York federal civil suit that Prince, who also goes by Sandra Arquiett, has filed against the United States and DEA Agent Timothy Sinnigen. The case, which Buzzfeed’s Chris Hamby first reported, has been sent for mediation by the judge in the case. It hints at the murky boundaries of social media privacy and raises questions as to how far law enforcement can go when using new technology to investigate cases.
To all the Chicken Little government prosecutors and agents:
We don’t need protection from straw-men pedophiles or kidnappers, we need protection from The Government.