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Pretty Good Pornography

A Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court in Vermont has ruled that a man allegedly caught with child pornography on his laptop need not reveal his PGP password (yes, authorities shut down the laptop and now can't get at the alleged porn) pursuant to the Fifth Amendment's protections against self incrimination. The decision is here[PDF]. A decent write-up (from CNET of all places) is here. This appears to be the first decision ever to directly address this issue, and many commentators had thought it would come out differently. The major question is whether revealing one's PGP key is "testimonial" or not. According to the Supreme Court, giving up fingerprints or blood samples isn't, nor is standing for a lineup, nor is handing over the key to a safe, but if it's combination safe, well maybe that's different. Never let it be said that your Fifth Amendment rights are easy.
posted by The Bellman on Dec 15, 2007 - 57 comments

 

Fear of a Left Planet

It's the first Monday in October and time for Supreme Court Justices to compare liberals, unfavorably, to the Ku Klux Klan. In his new memoir, released on the first day of the Supreme Court's 2007 term, Justice Clarence Thomas writes that he grew up fearing the KKK, but now knows he had "been afraid of the wrong white people all along. My worst fears had come to pass not in Georgia but in Washington, D.C., where I was being pursued not by bigots in white robes but by left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony. " No small man, he also comments on Anita Hill's bad breath. Slate's spectacular legal columnist, Dahlia Lithwick, notes that "in the few hundred pages of his new book, Thomas has managed to undo years of effort by his colleagues to depoliticize the judicial branch." As usual, only Jon Stewart can make us laugh through the tears.
posted by The Bellman on Oct 4, 2007 - 110 comments

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