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The Courts

Judge Rules Man Cannot Be Forced To Decrypt HD 775

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "In Vermont, US Magistrate Judge Jerome Niedermeier has ruled that forcing someone to divulge the password to decrypt their hard drive violates the 5th Amendment. Border guards testify that they saw child pornography on the defendant's laptop when the PC was on, but they made the mistake of turning it off and were unable to access it again because the drive was protected by PGP. Although prosecutors offered many ways to get around the 5th Amendment protections, the Judge would have none of that and quashed the grand jury subpoena requesting the defendant's PGP passphrase. A conviction is still likely because prosecutors have the testimony of the two border guards who saw the drive while it was open." The article stresses the potential importance of this ruling (which was issued last November but went unnoticed until now): "Especially if this ruling is appealed, US v. Boucher could become a landmark case. The question of whether a criminal defendant can be legally compelled to cough up his encryption passphrase remains an unsettled one, with law review articles for the last decade arguing the merits of either approach."

Update: 08/19 23:49 GMT by KD : Several readers have pointed out that this story in fact did not go unnoticed.

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