Judge Says Giving Up Your Password May Be A 5th Amendment Violation

from the protect-your-data dept

Courts have gone back and forth over the years concerning whether or not being forced to give up your password to reveal encrypted data is a violation of the Fifth Amendment. Now there's been yet another decision saying that someone cannot be forced to give up their password, because it likely violates their Fifth Amendment rights.
This is a close call, but I conclude that Feldman’s act of production, which would necessarily require his using a password of some type to decrypt the storage device, would be tantamount to telling the government something it does not already know with ‘reasonably particularity’—namely, that Feldman has personal access to and control over the encrypted storage devices. Accordingly, in my opinion, Fifth Amendment protection is available to Feldman. Stated another way, ordering Feldman to decrypt the storage devices would be in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination.
It's definitely a good thing to see courts getting this right. Being forced to give up your passwords and encryption is quite a slippery slope. It's good to see judges pushing back.
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Filed Under: fifth amendment


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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Apr 2013 @ 5:21pm

    Re:

    Then you get slapped with 'contempt of court', which is basically the legal way to coerce you to cooperate, and can involve pretty much unlimited jail time until you agree to do what they want you to.

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