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Colorado U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn said the Fifth Amendment does not protect her from the order

A Colorado woman was told to decrypt her laptop in court on Monday in order to aid prosecutors in her bank fraud case.

Ramona Fricosu, the defendant who was accused of bank fraud in 2010, had her laptop seized by authorities during the investigation. However, authorities stumbled upon a big problem while attempting to search her hard drive -- it was encrypted.

Full disk encryption, which prevents unauthorized access to data storage, is an option found in operating systems like Mac OS and Windows. The encryption can take decades to break, and if authorities tried to crack it, it could damage the computer.

That's why Colorado U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn ordered that Fricosu decrypt her hard drive and return it to the court so prosecutors can use her files against her in the bank fraud case.

Fricosu used the Fifth Amendment to protect herself. She argued that the Fifth Amendment protects her from compelled self-incrimination, and that the judge's order violates this. However, Blackburn didn't agree.

"I conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring production of unencrypted contents of the Toshiba Satellite M305 laptop computer," said Blackburn.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Davies backed Blackburn's order, saying that allowing encrypted content to defeat authorities would send the wrong message to other criminals. In her words exactly, it would be a "concession to her [Fricosu] 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."

Blackburn has ordered Fricosu to return the unencrypted hard drive by February 21. Civil rights groups are keeping a close eye on the case.

Sources: Wired, Fox News

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RE: Send the wrong message?
By Ticholo on 1/24/2012 11:11:46 AM , Rating: 2
But the warrant can't force you to dig the bodies up and display them in your porch. If the officers find them, yay for them. If not, you're free to kill again.

RE: Send the wrong message?
By MrBlastman on 1/24/2012 11:57:14 AM , Rating: 2
Well, not quite. They can still take you to trial on circumstantial evidence and if a jury is dense enough to convict you on those grounds you can still go to jail. The dilemma for yourself and those entombed bodies is--do they have enough evidence without them to get a conviction?

RE: Send the wrong message?
By jonmcc33 on 1/24/2012 1:17:15 PM , Rating: 2
Unless your name is Casey Anthony.

RE: Send the wrong message?
By YashBudini on 1/25/2012 2:37:06 PM , Rating: 2
But the warrant can't force you to dig the bodies up and display them in your porch. If the officers find them, yay for them. If not, you're free to kill again.

The police have found them, they're simply asking for the key to the vault. If no evidence is present she goes free.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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