U.S. Court Extends Fifth Amendment to Encrypted Data

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U.S. Court Extends Fifth Amendment to Encrypted Data

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A U.S. Federal Appeal Court has ruled that the imprisonment of a man who refused a grand jury order to decrypt data on his hard drives for an FBI investigation was a violation of his constitutional rights.

An investigation into the unspecified but presumably criminal activities of a Florida man ran into a wall when it turned out that the data on two laptops and five external hard drives seized by the FBI was encrypted with a program called TrueCrypt. Unlike on television, where the boys in the lab can create a GUI in Visual Basic and have the whole thing summarized and uploaded in a 20-second montage, this real-life encryption left the feds stuck. A grand jury thus ordered the man to decrypt the content but he declined, invoking his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

His refusal to comply with the order led to a finding of contempt and a trip to the slammer but after some further courtroom tussling, including an amicus filing by the EFF, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the claim is legitimate. Decrypting data is "testimonial," it ruled, and thus protected by the Fifth Amendment.

"The government's attempt to force this man to decrypt his data put him in the Catch-22 the Fifth Amendment was designed to prevent - having to choose between self-incrimination or risking contempt of court," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "We're pleased the appeals court recognized the important constitutional issues at stake here, and we hope this ruling will discourage the government from using abusive grand jury subpoenas to try to expose data people choose to protect with encryption. "

The EFF has filed a separate "friend of the court" brief in a similar case in Colorado, where a woman is contesting an order to decrypt data on a laptop seized in an investigation of fraudulent real estate deals. She has been ordered to decrypt the data this month following a rejection of her Fifth Amendment claim by an appeals court.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

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I hope they do this in the UK too, as far as I know they can force you to unencrypt your data.

"Wow our security is atrocious" - Archer

In all seriousness, I cannot tell if this is a good or bad thing, on one hand, people have a way to hide child porn behind the law (assuming they dont do it already) abd even then I don't know of that applies, on the other hand, we are protected from nazi-state computer scanning.

I find the FBI's decryption abilities far more contemptible than this guy's refusal to surrender the information.

I wonder what it is like up here in Canada...

This is a great day for all who value the right to data privacy.

Good. I was wondering when they were going to rule on this issue.

One thing I wonder is if they can make you decode something you wrote yourself if you wrote it in code. Because if they can't, it stands to reason they cannot force you to decode your data here.

I seriously doubt i'll ever have to worry about needing something like this but: *downloads TrueCrypt*

dobahci:
This is a great day for all who value the right to data privacy.

And great day for fraudsters, drug dealers, corrupt politicians, the various mobs, hit men, the Ku Klux clan, the Aryan nation and the other terrorist groups out there. So if Enron had just encrypted all their data they could have walked away scot free after defrauding ten of thousands of poeple. Rod Blagojevich should have sent an encrypted email instead of selling Obama's senate seat on the phone and he wouldn't be doing 14 years and the democratic process would have been for sale. But hey data privacy is way more important than protecting the democratic process.

albino boo:

dobahci:
This is a great day for all who value the right to data privacy.

And great day for fraudsters, drug dealers, corrupt politicians, the various mobs, hit men, the Ku Klux clan, the Aryan nation and the other terrorist groups out there. So if Enron had just encrypted all their data they could have walked away scot free after defrauding ten of thousands of poeple. Rod Blagojevich should have sent an encrypted email instead of selling Obama's senate seat on the phone and he wouldn't be doing 14 years and the democratic process would have been for sale. But hey data privacy is way more important than protecting the democratic process.

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation"

That's really what this is about. People's constitutional rights against being forced to incriminate themselves.

But hey: catching criminals is more important than protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That's why the feds don't need a warrant to search houses.

Oh wait!

albino boo:

dobahci:
This is a great day for all who value the right to data privacy.

And great day for fraudsters, drug dealers, corrupt politicians, the various mobs, hit men, the Ku Klux clan, the Aryan nation and the other terrorist groups out there. So if Enron had just encrypted all their data they could have walked away scot free after defrauding ten of thousands of poeple. Rod Blagojevich should have sent an encrypted email instead of selling Obama's senate seat on the phone and he wouldn't be doing 14 years and the democratic process would have been for sale. But hey data privacy is way more important than protecting the democratic process.

the rule are in place for a reason. The reason we don't let the government have a tremendous amount of power is the fear of tyranny. Lets say that we put in thousands upon thousands of cameras everywhere and all mugging and robberies are suddenly stopped. that would be good right? but what if the government just suddenly decides to make a law against playing tag? all of a sudden, those cameras that brought safety are now being used to oppress the people. I know this is an extreme example, but it can happen.

And as a founding father once said:

"those who sacrifice liberty for security, deserve neither"

Demanding the government have more power to invade peoples privacy, fits under this quote.

CM156:

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation"

That's really what this is about. People's constitutional rights against being forced to incriminate themselves.

But hey: catching criminals is more important than protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That's why the feds don't need a warrant to search houses.

Oh wait!

I wish I could say "obvious ruling is obvious", but apparently it isn't. As much as the the founding fathers' intent was blindingly clear to anyone with an ounce of sense, I don't think this one is going to be squashed for good until the Supreme Court gets involved.

Mortuorum:

CM156:

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation"

That's really what this is about. People's constitutional rights against being forced to incriminate themselves.

But hey: catching criminals is more important than protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That's why the feds don't need a warrant to search houses.

Oh wait!

I wish I could say "obvious ruling is obvious", but apparently it isn't. As much as the the founding fathers' intent was blindingly clear to anyone with an ounce of sense, I don't think this one is going to be squashed for good until the Supreme Court gets involved.

I'm confused: are you agreeing with me or mocking me?

:P

Either way, I'd love to see SCOTUS rule on this. I'm thinking the same people in Brown V EMA might vote the same way. Scalia, Roberts, and Kennedy are all big on the constitution

And yet if that data weren't encrypted, refusing to let them access that data (or deleting it before they could get to it, see also Nixon) would still be considered obstruction of justice, if I understand correctly. How does that work?

DVS BSTrD:
I find the FBI's decryption abilities far more contemptible than this guy's refusal to surrender the information.

How is it contemptible that the FBI aren't able to pull of something (cracking TrueCrypt assuming that the key is unknown) nobody on the planet has every succeeded to do yet?

Thank you Andy for telling us of TrueCrypt!

I am downloading it now!

Aardvark Soup:

DVS BSTrD:
I find the FBI's decryption abilities far more contemptible than this guy's refusal to surrender the information.

How is it contemptible that the FBI aren't able to pull of something (cracking TrueCrypt assuming that the key is unknown) nobody on the planet has every succeeded to do yet?

I think they fell into the NCIS trap where they can crack anything ever with a few days time

Steve the Pocket:
And yet if that data weren't encrypted, refusing to let them access that data (or deleting it before they could get to it, see also Nixon) would still be considered obstruction of justice, if I understand correctly. How does that work?

Because, from my understanding, you have to give them the data. You don't have to help them read it, but you have to give it to them. Proving the case is up to them, not you.

Also, one is an active criminal choice. There's a big difference.

albino boo:
And great day for fraudsters, drug dealers, corrupt politicians, the various mobs, hit men, the Ku Klux clan, the Aryan nation and the other terrorist groups out there. So if Enron had just encrypted all their data they could have walked away scot free after defrauding ten of thousands of poeple. Rod Blagojevich should have sent an encrypted email instead of selling Obama's senate seat on the phone and he wouldn't be doing 14 years and the democratic process would have been for sale. But hey data privacy is way more important than protecting the democratic process.

I think there's a potential argument to be made that data privacy could enable a criminal to more easily get away with his criminal activity, but honestly you could've made that argument in a way that didn't make you sound like a Fox News pundit.

Honestly this is an issue that has been argued over in legal theory for ages. It's not new with the information age by any means. Do we protect the rights of the accused or the accusers? If you protect the former, it means that criminals could be harder to put behind bars. If you protect the latter, then it means that a citizen who is wrongly accused would have a more difficult time of securing his innocence. I've always fallen firmly upon the side of the former.

You spoke of the democratic process. What could be more democratic than "innocent until proven guilty"?

albino boo:
But hey data privacy is way more important than protecting the democratic process.

You could make the same argument for warrantless phone taps, searches without any sort of probable cause and pretty much anything else. How far are you willing to go in the name of security? What are you willing to sacrifice?

Well. I'm all for rights and everything, but there's a limit. This completely screws over any kind of prosecution of other people for on-line crime. You can clear out bank accounts, steal credit card information, hire a hitman, whatever you want now. Just True-crypt your hard drive, and the police will never be able to do a damn thing.

Andy Chalk:

albino boo:
But hey data privacy is way more important than protecting the democratic process.

You could make the same argument for warrantless phone taps, searches without any sort of probable cause and pretty much anything else. How far are you willing to go in the name of security? What are you willing to sacrifice?

Well, I'm a bit on edge about this ruling, as it particularly is something that has so much criminal potential. Plus your day to day lay-person doesn't encrypt your computer, which pretty well separates this from phone tapping.

I can't help but have a slight fear that arrest rates on child pornographers will probably take a drop after this. Hopefully it won't be too bad, and while I'm not particularly incensed by this, I hope other things of this ilk don't happen. I'd say we're just on the line.

Edit: fixed error, computer tapping meant to be phone tapping.

Andy Chalk:

albino boo:
But hey data privacy is way more important than protecting the democratic process.

You could make the same argument for warrantless phone taps, searches without any sort of probable cause and pretty much anything else. How far are you willing to go in the name of security? What are you willing to sacrifice?

If you are ordered by a court to produce a printed document you shred it not only are you guilty of contempt the shred document can be put together and used in evidence against you. Why should the process of encryption be treated any different from shredding? It is also clear that he was ordered to by a court after due process. The FBI didn't walk and demand he decrypt without a warrant is the same way that they bugged Rod Blagojevich phone. Why should it be treated any different, in both cases due process occurred. In encryption case he actually knew that and order was beginning potentiality made against him and had an opportunity defend himself in court which is more than Rod Blagojevich had. Why should data held on disk have greater legal protection than the same information held on paper or the same information exchanged by spoken word?

Bertinan:
Well. I'm all for rights and everything, but there's a limit. This completely screws over any kind of prosecution of other people for on-line crime. You can clear out bank accounts, steal credit card information, hire a hitman, whatever you want now. Just True-crypt your hard drive, and the police will never be able to do a damn thing.

You're just being silly. The primary evidence is the money trail, which doesn't even live on your own hard drive in the first place. Nevermind server logs. Relying on personal data stores for criminal evidence is a terrible idea, as they can be destroyed and/or routinely "really" erased fairly simply regardless of encryption.

EDIT:

albino boo:
If you are ordered by a court to produce a printed document you shred it not only are you guilty of contempt the shred document can be put together and used in evidence against you. Why should the process of encryption be treated any different from shredding? It is also clear that he was ordered to by a court after due process. The FBI didn't walk and demand he decrypt without a warrant is the same way that they bugged Rod Blagojevich phone. Why should it be treated any different, in both cases due process occurred. In encryption case he actually knew that and order was beginning potentiality made against him and had an opportunity defend himself in court which is more than Rod Blagojevich had. Why should data held on disk have greater legal protection than the same information held on paper or the same information exchanged by spoken word?

This is a complete and total equivalence failure. The equivalent would be, the document is already shredded, but they can't put it back together without your help, do you have to help them?

ITT: people thinking that your own personal files are the sole remnants of evidence available

albino boo:
If you are ordered by a court to produce a printed document you shred it not only are you guilty of contempt the shred document can be put together and used in evidence against you. Why should the process of encryption be treated any different from shredding? It is also clear that he was ordered to by a court after due process.

Shredding a document means destruction of the evidence.

Encryption only protects it, even if the result is not being able to use it in court either.

I think it's perfectly legal to forget a password.

albino boo:

And great day for fraudsters, drug dealers, corrupt politicians, the various mobs, hit men, the Ku Klux clan, the Aryan nation and the other terrorist groups out there. So if Enron had just encrypted all their data they could have walked away scot free after defrauding ten of thousands of poeple. Rod Blagojevich should have sent an encrypted email instead of selling Obama's senate seat on the phone and he wouldn't be doing 14 years and the democratic process would have been for sale. But hey data privacy is way more important than protecting the democratic process.

Uh oh, you are in danger of being in the minority on an internet forum, beware. :-P

In all seriousness though. The fifth amendment isn't about criminals protecting themselves from Crime A when they are guilty. It's about protecting themselves from Crime B in the case where they are innocent of Crime A. Also though, it can apply to Crime A. If a guy pleads not guilty, he is within his right to not say, "I murdered John Doe". It would be contempt of court and obstruction if he had, but it has to be proven that he did it, at which point contempt and obstruction do not matter. No one can say if what he is protecting is proof of guilt in said crime or not. But the important thing to remember is that these laws do not exist to protect criminals, they exist to protect innocent people of being convicted of crimes. All the Prosecution is trying to do is catch somebody for a crime, if they are the one's, great. If they are not the one's, great. All they are trying to do is connect you with the crime in question, regardless of guilt. Being a suspect is good enough for most people to ruin a life anyway. That is what due process is all about. Innocent until proven Guilty. It's far more important that innocent people have the tools to prove their innocence than the prosecution has the tools to put away anybody they see fit to lock up.

I hear people talk the talk about the "cost of freedom". But, by and large, they have it wrong. The cost of freedom is that occasionally guilty men go free in order to protect innocent men from being jailed for crimes they did not commit. If he is guilty, then that sucks. But, that is the cost of freedom, and I am more than happy to pay that.

Like it or not, this is a win for every innocent person who the police have ever wrongly accused of a crime and any future instances of that same thing.

Also, in reference to the security: It's supposed to stop people from getting into your data. A lot of people like to encrypt data so NO ONE but them can access it. Just because I don't want someone getting into my data doesn't mean I'm a terrorist or a criminal, it means I feel the data is private and that is the end of the story.

I am pleased with this ruling. Nice to see our Fifth Amendment rights upheld.

Okey, I'm not from the US, so can someone PLEASE explain to me what the 5:th Ammendment is all about? Because after reading this, I imagined a scenario.
Imagine that there is a man that the feds know of, that have a trigger locked in a small box. If the trigger is not pressed within 24 hours, a bomb goes off somewhere, and a lot of people get killed. The feds know this, they have the man, he knows how to open the box, but he denies that there is a trigger in the box (though he confirms that there is something illegal in there, and that he can open the box, but he won't, because it would "incriminate himself"). The feds can not open the box without the bomb going off, nor can they find the bomb within 24 hours.
So, even though the man admits that he is hiding something illegal, and the feds have very strong evidence for thinking that this might be the trigger, they really can't force the man to open the box?
Really...?
I mean, really?

Realitycrash:
Okey, I'm not from the US, so can someone PLEASE explain to me what the 5:th Ammendment is all about? Because after reading this, I imagined a scenario.
Imagine that there is a man that the feds know of, that have a trigger locked in a small box. If the trigger is not pressed within 24 hours, a bomb goes off somewhere, and a lot of people get killed. The feds know this, they have the man, he knows how to open the box, but he denies that there is a trigger in the box (though he confirms that there is something illegal in there, and that he can open the box, but he won't, because it would "incriminate himself"). The feds can not open the box without the bomb going off, nor can they find the bomb within 24 hours.
So, even though the man admits that he is hiding something illegal, and the feds have very strong evidence for thinking that this might be the trigger, they really can't force the man to open the box?
Really...?
I mean, really?

How would your country force the man to open the box?

The fifth amendment is about court trials. It says you can't be forced to provide information that will help the court prosecute you.

If there is enough evidence that there is a bomb in the box and this guy planted it, then you can probably prosecute him without needing to open the box. The fifth amendment usually only applies when the cops don't know / can't prove what is in the box, so they can't put you in jail for what they think might be in there, and they can't force you to tell them what's in there.

Also it's important to know that if we're talking about an actual locked box, the cops can seize it with a search warrant. Therefore prior to these digital encryption cases, the "locked box" in 5th amendement cases is usually always a person's memories.

Baresark:

albino boo:

And great day for fraudsters, drug dealers, corrupt politicians, the various mobs, hit men, the Ku Klux clan, the Aryan nation and the other terrorist groups out there. So if Enron had just encrypted all their data they could have walked away scot free after defrauding ten of thousands of poeple. Rod Blagojevich should have sent an encrypted email instead of selling Obama's senate seat on the phone and he wouldn't be doing 14 years and the democratic process would have been for sale. But hey data privacy is way more important than protecting the democratic process.

Uh oh, you are in danger of being in the minority on an internet forum, beware. :-P

In all seriousness though. The fifth amendment isn't about criminals protecting themselves from Crime A when they are guilty. It's about protecting themselves from Crime B in the case where they are innocent of Crime A. Also though, it can apply to Crime A. If a guy pleads not guilty, he is within his right to not say, "I murdered John Doe". It would be contempt of court and obstruction if he had, but it has to be proven that he did it, at which point contempt and obstruction do not matter. No one can say if what he is protecting is proof of guilt in said crime or not. But the important thing to remember is that these laws do not exist to protect criminals, they exist to protect innocent people of being convicted of crimes. All the Prosecution is trying to do is catch somebody for a crime, if they are the one's, great. If they are not the one's, great. All they are trying to do is connect you with the crime in question, regardless of guilt. Being a suspect is good enough for most people to ruin a life anyway. That is what due process is all about. Innocent until proven Guilty. It's far more important that innocent people have the tools to prove their innocence than the prosecution has the tools to put away anybody they see fit to lock up.

I hear people talk the talk about the "cost of freedom". But, by and large, they have it wrong. The cost of freedom is that occasionally guilty men go free in order to protect innocent men from being jailed for crimes they did not commit. If he is guilty, then that sucks. But, that is the cost of freedom, and I am more than happy to pay that.

Like it or not, this is a win for every innocent person who the police have ever wrongly accused of a crime and any future instances of that same thing.

Also, in reference to the security: It's supposed to stop people from getting into your data. A lot of people like to encrypt data so NO ONE but them can access it. Just because I don't want someone getting into my data doesn't mean I'm a terrorist or a criminal, it means I feel the data is private and that is the end of the story.

You have still ignored my main point. Why should something the that has been encrypted have great legal protection than something that isn't. If you had the same information in safety deposit box a court order will grant access to it, if you do the electronic equivalent why should that have greater legal protection. All you guys going on about this being a victory are simply ignoring the fact that all other methods of storing information and exchanging are legally discoverable why shouldn't encrypted data be also legally discoverable. If you write on piece of paper your plan to rob a bank, that document is capable of being used in evidence against you. If you do the same thing on a computer and encrypt it you cant be touched. Why is it any different?

isometry:

Realitycrash:
Okey, I'm not from the US, so can someone PLEASE explain to me what the 5:th Ammendment is all about? Because after reading this, I imagined a scenario.
Imagine that there is a man that the feds know of, that have a trigger locked in a small box. If the trigger is not pressed within 24 hours, a bomb goes off somewhere, and a lot of people get killed. The feds know this, they have the man, he knows how to open the box, but he denies that there is a trigger in the box (though he confirms that there is something illegal in there, and that he can open the box, but he won't, because it would "incriminate himself"). The feds can not open the box without the bomb going off, nor can they find the bomb within 24 hours.
So, even though the man admits that he is hiding something illegal, and the feds have very strong evidence for thinking that this might be the trigger, they really can't force the man to open the box?
Really...?
I mean, really?

How would your country force the man to open the box?

The fifth amendment is about court trials. It says you can't be forced to provide information that will help the court prosecute you.

If there is enough evidence that there is a bomb in the box and this guy planted it, then you can probably prosecute him without needing to open the box. The fifth amendment usually only applies when the cops don't know / can't prove what is in the box, so they can't put you in jail for what they think might be in there, and they can't force you to tell them what's in there.

Also it's important to know that if we're talking about an actual locked box, the cops can seize it with a search warrant. Therefore prior to these digital encryption cases, the "locked box" in 5th amendement cases is usually always a person's memories.

As for how my country would deal with it, I honestly don't know. I am not aware of a "5th Ammendment"-esq law in our constitution, though one might exist. I think, however, that if there is enough evidence pointing to that the box contains the trigger, the authorities can order the man to open it. If he says "no", they can put him in jail untill he decides to do such.
And oh, yeah, the can seize it, but they can't open it (because in my example, it can't be opened, or the bomb would explode), so it becomes pointless.
And okay..If you can have a seach-warrant for a box or a car or whatever, why not for encrypted files?

Realitycrash:

As for how my country would deal with it, I honestly don't know. I am not aware of a "5th Ammendment"-esq law in our constitution, though one might exist. I think, however, that if there is enough evidence pointing to that the box contains the trigger, the authorities can order the man to open it. If he says "no", they can put him in jail untill he decides to do such.
And oh, yeah, the can seize it, but they can't open it (because in my example, it can't be opened, or the bomb would explode), so it becomes pointless.
And okay..If you can have a seach-warrant for a box or a car or whatever, why not for encrypted files?

It basically comes down to whether a password for encrypted data is "incriminating information" (protected by the 5th amendment) or whether it is just a key (so the police can demand it be handed over with a search warrant).

If the police have a search warrant and you refuse to give them the key then they can arrest you here too. What they can't do is force you to share incriminating information, like "where were you last night?", they can't arrest you just because you refuse to answer.

And okay..If you can have a seach-warrant for a box or a car or whatever, why not for encrypted files?

I agree it's surprising, that's what this court case is about so it's still be decided I guess.

Realitycrash:

As for how my country would deal with it, I honestly don't know. I am not aware of a "5th Ammendment"-esq law in our constitution, though one might exist. I think, however, that if there is enough evidence pointing to that the box contains the trigger, the authorities can order the man to open it. If he says "no", they can put him in jail untill he decides to do such.
And oh, yeah, the can seize it, but they can't open it (because in my example, it can't be opened, or the bomb would explode), so it becomes pointless.
And okay..If you can have a seach-warrant for a box or a car or whatever, why not for encrypted files?

You can. But a search warrant only gives them the legal authority to search it, using whatever means they find necessary. It doesn't mean you have to give them the keys to your box or car or whatever -- but if you don't, you can expect them to take a welding torch to the box, or a crowbar to the car, and you don't get to complain about any damages done.

In this case, he (probably) has the key, but they don't have the means to force their way in, and the 5th amendment has been applied to protect him from having to give up the key.

Personally, I think this application was over-broad, because the key, in and of itself, can not incriminate the guy. What might is the evidence that has already been gathered, but full access to it requires the key.

albino boo:
You have still ignored my main point. Why should something the that has been encrypted have great legal protection than something that isn't. If you had the same information in safety deposit box a court order will grant access to it, if you do the electronic equivalent why should that have greater legal protection. All you guys going on about this being a victory are simply ignoring the fact that all other methods of storing information and exchanging are legally discoverable why shouldn't encrypted data be also legally discoverable. If you write on piece of paper your plan to rob a bank, that document is capable of being used in evidence against you. If you do the same thing on a computer and encrypt it you cant be touched. Why is it any different?

The difference is that you aren't needed to get into a safe deposit box. The correct analogy, rather than a locked box, would be if you wrote something in code in a journal. You cannot be compelled to reveal the cypher to your code. Similarly, you should not, and by this ruling cannot, be forced to offer the encryption key to your drive. They can have the evidence, but it is their job to make use of it, not yours.

For people talking about safes and lock boxes as an analogy. The Supreme Court already ruled sometime ago, that a suspect can be compelled to produce a key to unlock a safe with a key lock, but cannot be forced to provided a combination to a combination safe, as the combination is stored in the mind.

It think the analogue to pass code and HDD drive as combination and safe are fairly obvious for people to see.

I don't think this ruling means that the police cannot do their jobs in arresting child abusers etc. It just means they have to find other ways of gathering the evidence, than just assuming it will be be there ready for them to use on suspects seized PC's.

Even in this case, they knew where and when he was uploading illegal material. A timely raid would have given them the PC's with a lot of the data unencrypted temporally, which could have been recorded separately. This would have given them justification to force the guy to decrypt the evidence again later, if that was needed for a conviction.

DVS BSTrD:
I find the FBI's decryption abilities far more contemptible than this guy's refusal to surrender the information.

Huh, I never saw that word used in a sentance before...

Also, as I have no clue what TrueCrypt is (save so much as a program that encrypts files), I thus dont have any idea of whether or not it is actually simple to break and the FBI suck, or it is insanly secure, and the FBI did their best.

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