Judge: Fifth Amendment doesn't protect encrypted hard drives

Discussion in 'Civil Rights & Privacy' started by Sunny Goth, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Well..... this was certainly a day for privacy related cases.

    Here's some bad news from Colorado.

    Judge: Americans can be forced to decrypt their laptops

    The judge ruled that the Fifth Amendment isn't a barrier to a decryption order. The good news (such that it is) is that the requirement that the defendant decrypt the files is a criminal case and the defendant has actually been charged with a crime. This is not just a random search case, where law enforcement went fishing, hoping to find something.

    This isn't a Supreme Court case, and other cases have ruled the other way (see article for details). But -- if the Supreme Court upholds this ruling I could see TSA and others try to push the envelope and try to force people to decrypt what's on their computers during a 'routine' search. Grrrr.
  2. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Assuming that she can even remember the encryption key. I would imagine that the length and complexity of her encryption key might be directly proportional to the degree to which the unencrypted contents might be incriminating.

    I can't see TSA trying to do that, except maybe for a few isolated renegades at the checkpoints. Most of them are too retarded to know what they're looking for and how to find it. As it is, they sometimes make pretty big asses of themselves with their document searches, e.g. when they harassed a Qantas exec (not knowing she was a Qantas exec) thinking she might be a terrorist carrying 777 planning documents. At the end of the day, a burger flipper trying to play Columbo is just a burger flipper in a trench coat, probably purchased for ten bucks at a Salavation Army store.
  3. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Isn't that the truth? ;)

    This is the scenario that I was envisioning. They'd do it just to step up the harassment quotient. They'd back down if challenged, but a lot of people just don't challenge. Of course, a lot of people don't use encryption....
  4. RB

    RB Founding Member


    I know some people encrypt the drives on their computers to block inspection by Customs and Immigration when returning to the States.

    Seems that practice may be coming to and end as well as any other reasons to keep personal information from others.

    Maybe its just me but this seems just like another attack on personal freedoms.
  5. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    I separated the posts concerning the encryption decision so they can be merged w/ another thread started on the same subject.
  6. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    I don't see why it would coming to an end. There are two reasons to encrypt data. One is to protect the integrity of private personal & corporate data from packet sniffers & from being stolen/copied. The other is to insulate yourself from criminal liability when the penalty for contempt is less than the prison time you're contemplating. Encryption key? What encryption key? I must be having a really bad senior moment, your honor.

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