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Judge: Encrypted Hard Drives Not Constitutionally Protected

PRIVACY LAW—U.S.

January 25, 2012

A federal judge in Colorado ruled earlier this week that a defendant whose encrypted laptop may have evidence against her in a mortgage scam case is not protected by the Fifth Amendment, CBS News reports. Judge Robert Blackburn has ordered the Colorado woman to decrypt her computer's hard drive no later than February 21 or possibly face contempt of court, the report states. Lawyers for the defendant have argued that sharing her password would be an instance of self-incrimination--a violation of the Fifth Amendment, but Judge Blackburn said, "I find and conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by required production of the unencrypted contents" of the computer.
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