Monday March 20, 2017

'Sorry, I've Forgotten my Decryption Password' is Contempt of Court

The Register is reporting that the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court ruling in which a man suspected of concealing child pornography was held in contempt after failing to successfully provide his decryption passwords for his external hard drives. This legal decision is somewhat controversial as many, including the EFF, believe that the forced disclosure of the contents of ones mind runs afoul of the 5th amendment.

It will be interesting to see if this case makes its way to the Supreme Court, and how it might rule.

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Others take issue with the idea that technology might be allowed to trump legal process. In a 2015 California Law Review article arguing that forced decryption is necessary to balance individual rights and government power, Dan Terzian, presently an associate at Duane Morris LLP, argues that the EFF's view is too expansive.

"Scores of companies now encrypt their data," Terzian wrote. "In the EFF’s alternate universe, these companies are effectively immune from discovery and subpoenas."