In this piece,
May 8, 2000 3:07 PM   Subscribe

In this piece, Greg Knauss (of Winerlog-when-it-was-good fame) asserts, among other things, that if a court subpoenas your email, and it's encrypted, that you can be tossed in jail for contempt if you don't give them the keys. Um, hello? 5th amendment? Does anyone have references either way on this one?
posted by baylink (6 comments total)
of all the things to note as Greg Knauss' fame, i would rank wienerlog dead last.
posted by palegirl at 3:25 PM on May 8, 2000

Greg's entirely right, of course. For a "reference," you might try reading the Fifth Amendment. Greg's talking about civil suits, not criminal cases brought by the government.

posted by anhedonia at 4:19 PM on May 8, 2000

The Fifth Amendment only relates to criminal prosecutions -- the article is concerned with civil actions. You can take the Fifth all you want when someone sues you (for, say, libel or violating an NDA) and the only thing you'll accomplish is giving the judge a good chuckle. If you continue to fail to submit to discovery, he'll cite you for contempt and fine and/or jail your uncooperative ass. When this article was discussed on Slashdot, most people missed the distinction between government action and a civil filing. (Which, ah, is my fault as the author. Heh.) The civil courts give much more leeway in discovery because you are presumably not faced with the pain of imprisonment. The court wants all the information it can get in order to make a sound decision and isn't concerned in the slightest with your notions of propriety or privacy.
posted by gknauss at 4:33 PM on May 8, 2000

I see. But, if you can be imprisoned for contempt, is the protection of the 5th, or possibly the 4th, amendment, not derivative?
posted by baylink at 7:33 PM on May 8, 2000

Well, that's certainly what's going to happen in the UK if the detestable RIP bill gets passed this week. Go to STAND to read the gruesome details.
posted by holgate at 7:35 PM on May 8, 2000

The RIP bill is insidious, not only does it attempt to deny privacy, but it places the burden of proof on the accused.
It's especially bad when you hear Chief Tony saying that he wants the UK to be a leading e-commerce country while Deputy Jack is putting laws in place which specifically discourage protection of privacy, which is one of the major barriers to the general public's acceptance of the net as a place to do business.
posted by Markb at 3:06 AM on May 9, 2000

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