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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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Not a violation of the 5th
By Forsaken503 on 1/24/2012 10:13:45 PM , Rating: 2
If you read the court document you would see that through a recorded phone conversation with her ex husband she has already admitted to being the owner of the laptop and the laptop having been used in the crime and information is still on the computer. If it were not for this then the gov't would not be able to ask for it to be decrypted. Also, in the child porn case when he was asked for a password he was protected under the 5th amendment rights, however because a border agent had already seen the pictures without needing to enter a password and the scumbag had willingly provided access to them when asked by another agent, they knew there was evidence there so an order for the criminal to produce an unncrypted version of the documents was granted and complied with.

Also, In the court order it states that a mirror image was taken before even attempting to boot the system, so any attempt to wipe the disk would have failed. A better method would be to design a hard drive with a backup battery internal to it so that if it is disconnected it would wipe itself. Also, have an encrypted partition that has to be connected to a web server for authentication and decryption of the drive would also work, if any system unsuccessfully attempted to decrypt the drive, the AES key could be deleted off the web server rendering all drive mirrors completely useless.




RE: Not a violation of the 5th
By Steve1981 on 1/25/2012 8:08:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you read the court document you would see that through a recorded phone conversation with her ex husband she has already admitted to being the owner of the laptop and the laptop having been used in the crime and information is still on the computer. If it were not for this then the gov't would not be able to ask for it to be decrypted.


Curious, when I read the 5th amendment, I don't see the part "nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself EXCEPT when we have a wiretapped phone conversation of you admitting that a critical piece of evidence is in an encrypted drive on your computer that only you know the password to".


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