Encryption And The Constitution: 5th Amendment Under Fire?Submitted by McWilly on Tue, 06/04/2013 - 15:39
There is an interesting court case going on right now in Wisconsin, which holds quite a bit of importance in the current digital era where the 5th Amendment is concerned. Jeffrey Feldman is accused of downloading child pornography from a file sharing site online, however federal agents hadn’t been able to get past the encryption on his computer’s hard drives in order to obtain evidence. The prosecution and government demanded that he unlock the system, however his attorney Robin Shellow argued that should Feldman decrypt the files it would violate his 5th Amendment rights against compelled self-incrimination. From Wired:
Shellow is making a novel argument that the federal magistrate’s decryption order is akin to forcing her client to build a case for the government. That’s because encryption basically transforms files into unreadable text, which is then rebuilt when the proper password is entered, she said.
“Some encryption effects erasure of the encrypted data (so it ceases to exist), in which case decryption constitutes re-creation of the data, rather than simply unlocking still-existing data,” Shellow wrote in a court filing. (.pdf)
Recently a court magistrate commanded Feldman to decrypt the files so that agents could get access. Continue Reading