Judge Orders Defendant to Decrypt Laptop

This is a discussion on Judge Orders Defendant to Decrypt Laptop within the General Chat & Discussion forums, part of the The Pub category; (WIRED) -- A judge on Monday ordered a Colorado woman to decrypt her laptop computer so prosecutors can use the files against her in a ...

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  1. #1
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    Judge Orders Defendant to Decrypt Laptop

    (WIRED) -- A judge on Monday ordered a Colorado woman to decrypt her laptop computer so prosecutors can use the files against her in a criminal case.
    The defendant, accused of bank fraud, had unsuccessfully argued that being forced to do so violates the Fifth Amendment's protection against compelled self-incrimination.
    "I conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring production of the unencrypted contents of the Toshiba Satellite M305 laptop computer," Colorado U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn ruled Monday (.pdf).
    The authorities seized the laptop from defendant Ramona Fricosu in 2010 with a court warrant while investigating financial fraud.
    The case is being closely watched (.pdf) by civil rights groups, as the issue has never been squarely weighed in on by the Supreme Court.
    Full disk encryption is an option built into the latest flavors of Windows, Mac OS and Linux, and well-designed encryption protocols used with a long passphrase can take decades to break, even with massive computing power.
    The government had argued that there was no Fifth Amendment breach, and that it might "require significant resources and may harm the subject computer" if the authorities tried to crack the encryption.
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Davies said in a court filing (.pdf) that if Judge Blackburn did not rule against the woman, that would amount 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."
    A factually similar dispute involving child pornography ended with a Vermont federal judge ordering the defendant to decrypt the hard drive of his laptop.
    While that case never reached the Supreme Court, it differed from the Fricosu matter because U.S. border agents already knew there was child porn on the computer because they saw it while the computer was running during a 2006 routine stop along the Canadian border.
    The judge in the Colorado case said there was plenty of evidence — a jailhouse recording of the defendant — that the laptop might contain information the authorities were seeking.
    The judge ordered Fricosu to surrender an unencrypted hard drive by February 21. The judge added that the government is precluded "from using Ms. Fricosu's act of production of the unencrypted hard drive against her in any prosecution."


    Source: Judge orders defendant to decrypt laptop - CNN.com
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  2. #2
    Terminator Administrator Archer's Avatar
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    Wow I dont know how I feel about this.
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  3. #3
    TR Staff The Duke's Avatar
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    yep I do not agree ... if the only thing they have is on the computer, then they do not have enough to convict. I agree with the usage of the 5th here ...
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  4. #4
    Terminator Administrator Archer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Duke View Post
    yep I do not agree ... if the only thing they have is on the computer, then they do not have enough to convict. I agree with the usage of the 5th here ...
    Yeah I mean what was the reason for the arrest? Surley they did not just arrest her and then expect her to lead them to evidence. Hell take all her suspisous investments that she can not prove ownership of and let her go.
    Last edited by Archer; 01-25-2012 at 05:36 PM.
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    lol .. "i forgot the password"

    besides, it very well infringes on her 5th amendment right. i don't see how it can not
    Last edited by BoT; 01-25-2012 at 05:37 PM.
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    I hear what you guys are saying, but isn't this the same thing as a search warrant to someone's locked home, or locked safe?
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    exactly, to do that thou it has to be beyond reasonable doubt, so unless they can proof their case without whats on the lappy they really have no case. the evidence on lappy would only solidify the evidence that already proofs the case, which in this case seems to be not exactly the case as so far it is mostly hearsay, it's her word against someone else's word.
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    Terminator Administrator Archer's Avatar
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    Yup but they need to crack it on their own. If they have a warrant to search your home you are not obligated to lead them to anything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoT View Post
    exactly, to do that thou it has to be beyond reasonable doubt, so unless they can proof their case without whats on the lappy they really have no case. the evidence on lappy would only solidify the evidence that already proofs the case, which in this case seems to be not exactly the case as so far it is mostly hearsay, it's her word against someone else's word.
    Ah, that makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Archer View Post
    Yup but they need to crack it on their own. If they have a warrant to search your home you are not obligated to lead them to anything.
    They're not asking her to show them where her stash is, just open the door (figuratively speaking)....at least I'm not reading that (didn't read the whole article though).
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  10. #10
    Terminator Administrator Archer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miahallen View Post
    Ah, that makes sense.


    They're not asking her to show them where her stash is, just open the door (figuratively speaking)....at least I'm not reading that (didn't read the whole article though).
    Precedents are the issue. If they do this and they can infringe already: Michigan: Police Search Cell Phones During Traffic Stops

    What stops them later.

    I do understand what you are saying and I think they need to fry her but I can think of circumstances where this could be bad.
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