Case Notes

United States v. Andrus: Password Protect Your Roommate, Not Your Computer


Sarah M. Knight


VOL. XXVI • Spring 2009 • NO. 1 (table of contents)

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Cite as:

26 John Marshall J. of Comp. & Info. Law 183


The article looks at the decision in United States v. Andrus, where it was determined that the police could obtain consent from a father to search an adult son’s computer without first checking if the father who gave consent know the password and therefore had apparent authority to search. The police used Encase, software designed to make a forensic copy of a hard drive, without even turning on the computer. The 10th Circuit majority opinion decided the police committed no error when they conducted the search. The article’s author argues that the dissenting opinion took the correct position in its determination that Encase software “sidesteps” the Fourth Amendment and the police first needed to determine whether the computer was password protected and if the third party giving consent to the search had access to the computer.

Author Footnote:

Sarah M. Knight, J.D. Candidate 2009, The John Marshall Law School.

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