Your Encryption Key Is Protected By The Constitution?

from the can't-incriminate-yourself dept

In an interesting case up in Vermont, a federal judge has ruled that someone accused of a crime cannot be forced to reveal his or her encryption key, as it would be a violation of the Constitution's 5th Amendment, saying that an individual cannot be forced to self-incriminate. In an age where encryption is becoming increasingly popular, expect to see other cases of this nature. It seems likely that a case like this one (if not this one itself) will eventually wind up before the Supreme Court to determine whether or not someone can be forced to give up his own encryption key. Where it gets tricky is the question of whether or not the key itself incriminates the person. As the article notes, a person can be forced to give up a key to a safe that contains incriminating evidence, which many say is analogous to this situation. In the meantime, though, we've already seen cases where people are presumed guilty just because their computers have encryption software installed -- so, it may not matter whether or not the key is provided when the presence of PGP alone is viewed as incriminating.

Filed Under: constitution, encryption, encryption key, fifth amendment, pgp


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  1. identicon
    Russ, 17 Dec 2007 @ 9:28am

    Consitiution

    Uniboy, et al

    If you had any understanding of the military in their constitutional role you would not be posting such blather.

    The military is not a political organization, it does not make decisions with regard to constitutional issues. That is the role of the SC. The Military was placed under control of civilians, subordinate to duly elected officials.

    To complain about your elected officials is your 1st amendment right. To advocate the violent overthrow of the government is sedition.

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