This Note sets forth that it is unacceptable for law enforcement to ignore the presence of passwords simply because they may not be immediately visible. Furthermore, it is contrary to the Fourth Amendment for law enforcement to rely on third parties who grant access to search the data without knowledge of the password to unlock the data. Principles hammered out over time for searches and seizures of physically locked objects can easily be transposed and extended to fit the virtual world while still providing people the protections of the Fourth Amendment.
Note, Dangerously Sidestepping the Fourth Amendment: How Courts Are Allowing Third-Party Consent to Bypass Warrants for Searching Password-Protected Computer, 57 Clev. St. L. Rev. 279 (2009)