The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled yesterday [.pdf] that a citizen's refusal to decrypt encrypted drives is protected by the Fifth Amendment, at least under some circumstances. In doing so it reversed the district court's contempt order entered against a John Doe defendant after he refused to decrypt his laptop hard drive and five external hard drives in response to a subpoena. This decision arguably conflicts with an earlier decision in which a district court in Vermont required a defendant to provide the password to his encrypted drives. The Eleventh Circuit distinguishes the earlier case on the basis that the government in that case knew of the existence of the files and simply couldn't access them, while in the recent case the government did not know the names of files or even whether or not files actually existed on the encrypted drives.
posted by monju_bosatsu
on Feb 24, 2012 -
Public interests will be harmed absent requiring defendants to make available unencrypted contents in circumstances like these. Failing to compel Ms. Fricosu amounts to a concession to her and potential criminals (be it in child exploitation, national security, terrorism, financial crimes or drug trafficking cases) that encrypting all inculpatory digital evidence will serve to defeat the efforts of law enforcement officers to obtain such evidence through judicially authorized search warrants, and thus make their prosecution impossible.
ALL YOUR EMAIL ARE BELONG TO US! How serious is this threat? What precautions do you routinely take? What precautions do you think you *should* be taking? What viable options do we have today, for those of us who aren't computer programmers by profession? And how secure are they, anyway?
posted by rushmc
on May 30, 2001 -