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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 Reclaimer77 on 1/24/2012 5:55:42 PM , Rating: 2
I'm normally all for privacy, but in a situation like this, where there is probable cause to believe she commited a crime, if a judge orders the person to give up the password, I am all for it. Otherwise this becomes a massive hole criminals can hide in.

If there was probable cause, they could build a case without the data on the drive. The fact that they cant, tells us this is a fishing expedition. There is absolutely NO legal responsibility on her part to allow her privacy and rights to be violated, willingly, so they can attempt to build a case against her.

She is literally being forced to self-incriminate herself. Something that is against the law. The Fifth Amendment is CRYSTAL clear on this.

if a judge orders the person to give up the password, I am all for it.

Well you can burn in hell along with this judge then. Yes, maybe some criminals WILL get by because of this. So what? At the risk of shattering our Fifth Amendment rights, you think that's too high a price to pay?

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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