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Judge orders laptop owner to decrypt hard drive

Image via Flickr

If you have a hard drive and you encrypt it, can a judge later force you to decrypt the contents if the information revealed could then be used against you? Well you might say no because of the Fifth Amendment, as you would be incriminating yourself. However Judge Robert Blackburn for the U.S. District Court of Colorado doesn’t agree. 

Judge Blackburn ordered Ramona Fricosu, the defendant in a bank fraud case, to decrypt the contents of her laptop hard drive. The court states that they have strong reason to believe that the contents of the drive are relevant to the case. The judge dismissed Fifth Amendment concerns, stating Fifth Amendment protections “protects a person only against being incriminated by his own compelled testimonial communications”. The court order can be found here.

This creates an interesting situation. On one hand you have to comply with a court order to supply documents that are pertinent to a case, just like company records and such. On the other hand, when a drive is encrypted and only you have the key, is it constitutional for you to be the person that incriminates yourself?

What do you think?

(Source: Engadget)

  1. robertritz posted this