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US woman is ordered to decrypt her hard drive

Fifth Amendment doesn't apply
Tue Jan 24 2012, 17:15

A FEDERAL JUDGE in Colorado has ordered a woman to decrypt the hard drive in her laptop so the files can be used as evidence against her.

The laptop was seized by FBI agents under a warrant in May 2010 whilst investigating financial fraud. However, the files were encrypted by PGP Desktop so the authorities demanded her decryption password under the All Writs Act.

Ramona Fricosu refused to hand over her password, claiming the demand violated the Fifth Amendment protection against compelled self-incrimination.

However, US District Court Judge Robert Blackman said, "I find and conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring production of the unencrypted contents of the Toshiba Satellite M305 laptop computer."

A similar legal doctrine has been around in the UK for a number of years but this is relatively new across the pond and is likely to appear more frequently in the future. µ


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