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+ - Fifth Amendment Ruling Protects Passwords 1

Submitted by PhysicsPhil
PhysicsPhil (880677) writes "A few websites (here, here and here) have reported on a recent ruling in US computer law. A federal magistrate judge in Vermont has ruled (PDF) that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination protects a suspect against having to reveal his computer password. The case centres around a (legal) search of a Canadian man's laptop at a border crossing, during which evidence of encrypted child pornography was found. A grand-jury instruction to disclose the password was challenged on Fifth Amendment grounds, leading to this ruling. A columnist at Findlaw.com has an article with legal analysis of some of the issues."
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Fifth Amendment Ruling Protects Passwords

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  • From near the end of the ruling:

    Since the government is trying to compel the production of the password itself, the foregone conclusion doctrine cannot apply. The password is not a physical thing. If Boucher knows the password, it only exists in his mind. This information is unlike a document, to which the foregone conclusion doctrine usually applies, and unlike any physical evidence the government could already know of.

    The findlaw columnist apparently doesn't agree with this reasoning. It'll be interesti

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