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Judge Rules Man Cannot Be Forced To Decrypt HD

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the cold-dead-fingers dept.

The Courts 775

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "In Vermont, US Magistrate Judge Jerome Niedermeier has ruled that forcing someone to divulge the password to decrypt their hard drive violates the 5th Amendment. Border guards testify that they saw child pornography on the defendant's laptop when the PC was on, but they made the mistake of turning it off and were unable to access it again because the drive was protected by PGP. Although prosecutors offered many ways to get around the 5th Amendment protections, the Judge would have none of that and quashed the grand jury subpoena requesting the defendant's PGP passphrase. A conviction is still likely because prosecutors have the testimony of the two border guards who saw the drive while it was open." The article stresses the potential importance of this ruling (which was issued last November but went unnoticed until now): "Especially if this ruling is appealed, US v. Boucher could become a landmark case. The question of whether a criminal defendant can be legally compelled to cough up his encryption passphrase remains an unsettled one, with law review articles for the last decade arguing the merits of either approach."

Update: 08/19 23:49 GMT by KD : Several readers have pointed out that this story in fact did not go unnoticed.

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775 comments

Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665405)

Great news!

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665555)

It is good news because there was really only two options here:

a) The government can't force a man to give up his password and have to rely on other evidence, or
b) The government tries to force the man to give up his password and he decides that he would rather face a contempt of court charge than give the government evidence. Thus, the government has to rely on other evidence.

Either way, getting the password is a non-starter.

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665655)

Or

c) The government could waterboard him to get the password. After all, waterboarding leaves no marks so it would just be his word against theirs. And it isn't as if he could give false information when the government could instant verify if it was correct. They could have the password in 15 minutes if they wanted. All they would need would be to place him in solitary confinement, bring in 4 guards, a rag, some plastic wrap, a jug of water, and a mop.

Re:Sweet! (2, Funny)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665905)

Well option 'c' is always open, even if it's illegal it's like you said "After all, waterboarding leaves no marks so it would just be his word against theirs". I guess you just have to learn how to not give up your rights under moderate torture. (or quit being a pedophile)

Re:Sweet! (5, Insightful)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665721)

Considering that the constitution provides that he shouldn't be forced to incriminate himself, it is definitely good news that the Judge didn't try to rewrite the constitution. It's high time that we start holding the judges who disagree with this concept accountable.

Huzzah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665415)

Yay! nuff said!

saw the drive when it was open?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665419)

Did the Border Patrol have reason to open the hard drive case?

Did they have a clean room?

And who has CP displayed when they go thru customs?

Re:saw the drive when it was open?? (1)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665699)

Clean rooms aren't required to view files. As proof, were you sitting in a clean room when you typed your reply?

+1 Insightful for the last comment though. Even a pedophile would probably have enough common sense to not have any child-porn readily available on the laptop. I don't even keep SI swimsuit photos that readily-accessible due to the child my wife and I have.

Re:saw the drive when it was open?? (2, Funny)

AssTard (684911) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665787)

ha one time I was at this cafe, and as the waiter walked up behind me, I opened the lid of my laptop, and my browser was running, and inside it, a porno picture, full screen! ha Boy was my face red. I fumbled and said "Hey, why are you putting porn on my pc!" The guy just laughed.

First Prost! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665423)

Woot! Cherry popping screenshot!

But serious, thought police = bad. Good for the judge.

The devil is in the details (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665437)

From TFA:

"thousands of images of adult pornography and animation depicting adult and child pornography."

I know that TFA is about encryption and the rights to passwords but I think the phrase above is far more interesting. That quote could be misleading, but what if the Border Enforcers didn't find any photographs or videos(hell, any evidence at all)of real human child exploitation?

If they are able to legally get the key and crack the drive, and all they found was animation, then maybe they should just give him a warning and and call him a "perv"...especially if he has "thousands" of files and not a single one is "real".

By the way, those of you who fantasize about your wife or girlfriend in a schoolgirl outfit are also pervs :)

Re:The devil is in the details (5, Funny)

hkgroove (791170) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665477)

What does that make us who may have a girlfriend who dress in school girl outfits for us?

Re:The devil is in the details (5, Funny)

Gloy (1151691) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665495)

Liars.

Re:The devil is in the details (1, Offtopic)

toddles666 (814422) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665619)

Damn, no points, but I'll try: mod +1, Funny.

Re:The devil is in the details (4, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665597)

What does that make us who may have a girlfriend who dress in school girl outfits for us?

lucky bastards?

Re:The devil is in the details (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665601)

Or what about those of us who dress in school girl outfits for our girlfriends?

Re:The devil is in the details (5, Funny)

_merlin (160982) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665651)

Total nerds? Freaks? Transvestites? Gender benders? Have to say it's fun, though.

Re:The devil is in the details (1)

empraptor (748821) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665723)

Depends on how old you are and whether they wear those outfits during the day.

Re:The devil is in the details (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665777)

Ebichu fans?

-uso.

Re:The devil is in the details (4, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665489)

Actually, child pornography is such a witchhunt that even animated child pornography is illegal. That's right, child porn which never involved a child can still get you sent to Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison for a long time.

There are convoluted rationalizations for why this is so, but they are so insane that I will not bother to reproduce them here. Suffice it to say that society has collectively lost its mind when it comes to the idea of child pornography.

Re:The devil is in the details (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665701)

Naah. Society has lost it's mind when it comes to children, period. There's some sort of popular myth that started with the Baby Boomer generation that children need to be protected from everything. I'm not saying that sexual abuse of a child is ever right, but I'm saying that we have come to hold this purported "innocence" as sacrosanct, much to the detriment of society in general, as we have raised a generation of kids unable to deal with even getting a job on their own [msn.com] . The sooner we realize that kids don't need coddled, and need to be educated, this shit will go away by itself for a large part.

I'd love to post this signed in, but I'm afraid that in the current climate, people will start hunting me down as some kind of pedophile (which is the new version of the word "witch", "commie", or "fag", depending on what era you're from). An unassailable accusation that you have no hope in hell of defending yourself against, even if there is no truth to it.

Re:The devil is in the details (1, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665755)

They had to find a replacement for Communists. Remember when we were kids (or at least some of us, anyways), Communists were lurking in every dark alley, exchanging secret handshakes and meeting in strange, poorly-lit hotel rooms to plot the overthrow of the Free World.

Now, it's pedophiles. The same sort "They're everywhere" paranoia is spread about by the media and by police forces, both of which thrive economically on FUD.

I'm not defending pedophiles. I think they should be strapped down, have their genitalia removed with piano wire and forced to go around with the words "CHILD RAPER" etched with some sort of power tool on their forehead, but the fact is that despite the media's very best efforts, and the various police forces to find some new avenue to trash civil liberties at every turn, "for the children" has become the rallying cry. The Founding Fathers intended the government to err on the side of liberties, even where freedom of expression might be quite distasteful to the larger society. That means Communists shouldn't have been harassed and in imprisoned, unless they were actually aiding an enemy power, and it means that just because some sicko has sexually explicit cartoons, drawings or stories involving children doesn't mean that we just toss the First and Fifth Amendments out the door.

Re:The devil is in the details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665831)

But... Think of the children!

Re:The devil is in the details (4, Informative)

Gregg M (2076) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665833)

Actually, child pornography is such a witchhunt that even animated child pornography is illegal.

Actually, It's not. Here's a quote from Wikipedia's listing under Child pornography [wikipedia.org] .

Child pornography may be simulated by the use of computers[13] or adults made to look like children.[14] For simulated child pornography that is produced without the involvement of children, there is some controversy regarding whether or not such simulated child pornography is abusive to children. The legal status of simulated or "virtual" child pornography varies around the world; for example, it is legal in the United States, it is illegal in the European Union, and in Australia its legal status is unclear and so far untested in the courts.

Re:The devil is in the details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665869)

Nope, animations are not illegal.

Images, which are depictions, even photographs, should never be illegal. Now the acts, the exploitation of children (underage models for anything should not be allowed), and commerce in same should be illegal.

But proof, not just vague guesses as to what images some person says they saw on a computer screen, should be required to convict someone of a crime.

Ah, for the good old days when I live in the United States of America. These days it is just a bunch of states that actively ignore the country's constitution. Not really the USA anymore. Hasn't been for a long time.

Re:The devil is in the details (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665881)

Actually, child pornography is such a witchhunt that even animated child pornography is illegal.

False: http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/00-795.ZS.html [cornell.edu]

Re:The devil is in the details (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665611)

By the way, those of you who fantasize about your wife or girlfriend in a schoolgirl outfit are also pervs :)

My gf is a schoolgirl, you insensitive clod!

Maybe you should look at the Protect Act? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665683)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_Act_of_2003 [wikipedia.org]

I knew that I read this somewhere... Prohibits computer-generated child pornography when "(B) such visual depiction is a computer image or computer-generated image that is, or appears virtually indistinguishable from that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; (as amended by 1466A for Section 2256(8)(B) of title 18, United States Code).

Re:The devil is in the details (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665733)

If you have nothing to hide, just turn over the password. Something tells me little nuts has something to hide. Burn him

Re:The devil is in the details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665847)

If you have nothing to hide, just turn over the password. Something tells me little nuts has something to hide. Burn him

Please try to be a bit less obvious when trying to provoke. You're not fooling anyone like that.

Re:The devil is in the details (4, Informative)

Aaron England (681534) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665749)

The prohibition of virtual child pornography was overturned in the United States with Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition (2002). It is still illegal in the European Union however.

Re:The devil is in the details (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665841)

By the way, those of you who fantasize about your wife or girlfriend in a schoolgirl outfit are also pervs

What I wear while fantasizing about my wife is none of your concern.

Re:The devil is in the details (4, Funny)

dat cwazy wabbit (1147827) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665935)

It's the Catholic Church and other organizations that dress up young girls in such hot outfits who are sick.

Both sides win (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665455)

A rare victory where both the criminal loses and our rights are protected.

Would read a second time.

Re:Both sides win (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665801)

Actually, according to TFA, the defendant may not be a criminal:

"An officer ... allegedly discovered 'thousands of images of adult pornography and animation depicting adult and child pornography.'"

No one has witnessed anything that would have involved children, if you assume that "animation depicting" means drawings, and not movies. The word "depicting" suggests that it is not real.

Re:Both sides win (0, Troll)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665915)

No one has witnessed anything that would have involved children, if you assume that "animation depicting" means drawings, and not movies. The word "depicting" suggests that it is not real.

If you assume these observations are correct, then you must be a Slashdot lawyer. Instead of assuming something, why don't you see what the legal definition of "depicting" is. Why don't you look at the transcript of the actual testimony, instead of paraphrasing a Slashdot blurb, and declaring this guy innocent?

This is just another episode of the Hans Reiser Slashdot Law forum deciding from web articles the injustices meted out on some hapless victim of our so-called corrupt judicial system.

Re:Both sides win (1)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665867)

and our rights are protected.

I don't really agree with this ruling though. I don't think that's protecting our fifth ammendment right. A laptop is just a peice of property, and digital information or not, a judge has always had the right to subpeona emails, chat conversations, issue search warrants for a physical house, etc. We have the right under the 5th ammendment to not admit that we did the crime, but we don't have the right to not have others search if there is probable cause and a judge issues a warrant.

I'm still not seeing how this is any different than a judge requireing you to open your locked house for a search. This is just a key to another location where potential contraband is stored, and they had the maximum amount of probably cause.

of course (5, Funny)

hamburger lady (218108) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665461)

Border guards testify that they saw child pornography on the defendant's laptop when the PC was on

wow, so cops testify that it's true? that's good enough for me!

Re:of course (1, Informative)

level4 (1002199) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665545)

Shit. Posting to nullify my accidental "overrated" mod.

I'd meant to mod +1, Funny.

Re:of course (4, Interesting)

Gen-GNU (36980) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665669)

I also doubt that a "conviction is still likely", unless they have some other material to show. Convictions in these cases are almost always due to the shock value created by showing the dirty films and pictures to the jury. If they cannot recover the images and movies, they will actually have to cover their burden of proof a lot more than prosecutors are used to in this case, and the defense might actually have a shot.

If the jury actually thinks about the fact that the only evidence is what some cops say they saw, but can't prove. If the prosecution somehow gets to show "similar images" or some such nonsense, the defense is hosed.

Re:of course (2, Funny)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665937)

I also doubt that a "conviction is still likely", unless they have some other material to show.

What if they have a police artist's sketch? And then those guys go to jail too.

Re:of course (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665693)

Geez, cops probably become witnesses to countless crimes as they are out on patrol or get called out on assignment. Things would get utterly stupid if cops can't testify. Of course, a good defense lawyer should try to pick that testimony apart as well.

Re:of course (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665727)

I used to work IT for a metro cop-shop. I can recall being in the main room fixing a monitor (that long ago). I heard two guys talking and one said "Yeah I need to go to court today to Testi-lie".

Re:of course (1)

sigzero (914876) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665899)

It will be in court. The fact that he didn't cough up the pass phrase is going to go against him as well.

DUPE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665465)

Re:DUPE (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665593)

Alas, it is a dupe. It's even the same cnet story. What a shame. I was hoping that some other intelligent judge in your crazy country managed to use some common sense.

Re:DUPE (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665885)

So... what was the final result, or is it still going through the courts?

And WHAT do they know ? (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665479)

A conviction is still likely because prosecutors have the testimony of the two border guards who saw the drive while it was open

two border guards, who are white collar workers of non technical origin, non geek, AVERAGE internet user just like the ma and pa in illinois.

People really are stupid (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665485)

Turn *off* your laptop before going through customs.
Turn off the GRUB menu and change the default key combination to have it come up.
Have a WinXP install to boot up into and set it as the default boot option.

Strong cryptography is lovely but it is not for idiots.

Re:People really are stupid (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665525)

What about having it boot to FreeDOS?

Re:People really are stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665789)

are you stupid ? if they dont see a windows start menu they confiscate the laptop.

Re:People really are stupid (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665805)

I find it scary that users should even have to post such instructions to help people visiting the US avoid having private information goggled at by the government. I'm having serious second doubts about going to the US for a semester, what with the recent transition into semi-totalitarianism.

A little old isn't it? (1)

Winfang (1347703) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665487)

The article is from Dec 17 2007.

Re:A little old isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665547)

I think slashdot mentioned the story last year too, when it first came out, and also linked to a real legal analysis of the opinion from volokh. I'm surprised this is went "unnoticed". Only to the submitter, apparently.

think about the children! (4, Insightful)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665505)

The problem with this case is that it is the textbook example of the think about the children argument to bypass regular civil rights. As such it could just as well end up being used to throw (more) smoke at the public understanding of the merits of being entitled to privacy.

In any case, it is good to see judges in the US (or anywhere else) making into the news for taking the right stand regarding governmental search limits.

good thing, bad thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665509)

Why do good things happen only to bad guys?

Wow...anyone know what happened to him? (5, Interesting)

clonehappy (655530) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665515)

Here, we have a story which is not only over 8 months old, but is also a dupe [slashdot.org] . That has to be some kind of a record.

Re:Wow...anyone know what happened to him? (1)

croddy (659025) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665537)

Oh no no. The story went unnoticed until now. It says so right there in the summary.

Re:Wow...anyone know what happened to him? (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665571)

he just sort of disappeared. remarkable, really.

Re:Wow...anyone know what happened to him? (3, Funny)

PacketShaper (917017) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665759)

Here, we have a story which is not only over 8 months old, but is also a dupe [slashdot.org] . That has to be some kind of a record.

You must be new here...

but america china amirite? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665523)

every time I criticize china, i get told that I have no liberties as an american. me so conbused.

Uh-Oh (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665527)

From TFA :"Orin Kerr, a former Justice Department prosecutor who's now a law professor at George Washington University, shares this view. Kerr acknowledges that it's a tough call, but says, "I tend to think Judge Niedermeier was wrong given the specific facts of this case." "

The phrase "given the specific facts of this case" gives me chills in this context. As we all know, kiddie porn is, along with terrorism and drugs, one of the three Prime Evils of American jurisprudence and public opinion, the unholy trinity that justify any and all measures in their eradication.

In short: Why, why does our potential landmark 5th amendment case have to be a kiddie porn case? I'm no fan of child pornography; but it would be an absolute disaster if, thanks to the vociferous moral condemnation that such a case always involved, we end up setting a dangerous precedent concerning the 5th amendment and crypto keys/passwords.

I think it involves no hyperbole to say that the crypto key issue is probably the most important 5th amendment related question that technology has yet raised(mindreading tech will probably top it, when it becomes available). I'd hate to see this be yet another decision chiseling away at our constitution, just because some punk likes kiddie porn.

Re:Uh-Oh (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665629)

Because if your rights and freedoms do not stand up when applied to the worst of the worst then they most likely won't stand up when applied to you.

Re:Uh-Oh (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665641)

It's the most-likely situation where they'll actually search your laptop and where you have no interest in divulging your encryption keys.

Most "cybercrime" is a lot harder to notice (particularly by border guards doing cursory searches as you pass through) and tends to have evidence elsewhere other than the suspect's laptop.

Re:Uh-Oh (3, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665663)

Don't you remember 9/11, when terrorists flew child porn into the WTC?

For shame, fuzzyfuzzyfungus. For shame.

Re:Uh-Oh (3, Informative)

jhantin (252660) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665745)

This is exactly why the ACLU gets so much hate: they have to go to bat for civil liberties to try to prevent bad precedent, even though public opinion on the case is more like "Due process? Just lynch them!"

That this happens so often leads me to believe that a number of prosecutors pick these opportunities specifically to force judges to choose between civil liberties and looking like they support the Prime Evils.

Re:Uh-Oh (1)

jbeach (852844) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665859)

Gee. A former prosecutor thinks protecting the 5th amendment is wrong "in this case". Why doesn't that surprise me. "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair

Strange (4, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665557)

IANAL, but if my memory serves me correctly, Customs and "border guards"aren't constrained by the same laws that other law enforcement is. That's why they can search your vehicle, personal effects, body cavities, etc. when you enter the country without a warrant.

I have a constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures once inside the United States, but not while entering it. The judges decision sounds nice, but I don't think it will stand.

Re:Strange (4, Interesting)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665631)

That's why they could look at it in the first place.

But they failed to gather evidence when they had the chance. And now he's back in the country, subject to all the regular protections. If they had copied the unencrypted contents of his hard drive previously they would be able to use that evidence in court, but they can't force him to decrypt its contents now just because they happened to have access to it when he crossed.

Re:Strange (2, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665659)

You're thinking of the fourth amendment. This is the fifth amendment, under which you cannot be compelled to testify against yourself.

Re:Strange (2, Funny)

peektwice (726616) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665671)

So, if I enter the country without a warrant, I can expect to be violated in various cavities. ewwww...

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665677)

This ruling does not state that the border patrol didn't have the right to look at his laptop, which most agree they have a right to do because of the reason you said. This applies only to the coerced divulging of information that can be used to incriminate you.

If you know the password, and it unlocks the drive, then you must have put those files on that drive, or at least knew of them, so the password is a piece of evidence against you.

Re:Strange (3, Funny)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665897)

Customs and "border guards" [...] can search your vehicle, personal effects, body cavities, etc. when you enter the country without a warrant.

Okay, I don't want my nether hole searched next time I enter the US. Where do I apply for the warrant???

(Some 12 years ago, I crossed into the US through a very remote border post in Maine, and I was wearing a fanny pack that one customs agent wanted to search. So I handed it to him, and he ran his finger through the small change with exactly the same look of a pervert who sifts through a pile of women underwear. Really creepy).

Dupe, noted in firehose, with link (4, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665563)

Seriously, are the editors asleep?

This story [slashdot.org] from last December had the exact same article. This was noted in the firehose entry [slashdot.org] , and somehow this still got posted. I thought that kind of thing was a major purpose of the firehose?

WTF

Re:Dupe, noted in firehose, with link (4, Informative)

Chad Birch (1222564) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665767)

Hey, at least they didn't post an article stating that Duke Nukem Forever was almost ready to come out on Xbox Live, when the article itself clearly stated that it was about Duke Nukem 3D. Oh wait, kdawson did that this morning.

kdawson seems to be an "editor" in only the absolute vaguest sense of the word.

From the FA... (1)

GeneralEmergency (240687) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665569)

He said that encryption keys can be "testimonial," and even the prosecution's alternative of asking the defendant to type in the passphrase when nobody was looking would be insufficient.

Umm...If nobody was -really- looking dood, "Format C:"

Too bad there's no data wipe param.

Re:From the FA... (2, Interesting)

Xiaran (836924) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665681)

Actually I used to write disk encryption software(For NT/9X) and that was one of our (minor) features. We figured when we wanted to sell to military it might be cute to have a duress passpharse that would shred designated files but boot the OS as if nothing had happened. Alas we never had anyone who was interested.

TrueCrypt Hidden OS (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665573)

Plug for TrueCrypt 6.0's Hidden OS feature. This allow one to give a password (not the "real" password) and have the system boot to a hidden OS which is not your real installation. Moreover, there is no way to prove the "real" OS exists. http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/?s=hidden-operating-system

Backdoors? (4, Interesting)

Cillian (1003268) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665581)

Well, the fact that "they"'ve gone to all this trouble, and have fallen flat on their faces suggests there really aren't any backdoors in PGP at least, or that they aren't open to people at that level, which is nice.

Re:Backdoors? (4, Insightful)

mrami (664567) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665771)

or that they aren't open to people at that level

If someone like the NSA knew how, I doubt they would let that information leak without a really, really good reason. And "think of the children" doesn't count in that arena.

which is nice.

At least, it's good to know. :)

Hmmm (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665583)

Glad to know our border guards are fully trained in recognizing and identifying pornography in terms of US code Title 18. Wait, does that even apply to animation?

Seriously, while child pornographers deserve a fate worse than I'm willing to admit, it is often far too go after someone accused of such things.

Good for him to stand up for his 5th. Good for the judge to protect it.

Warrant? (1)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665605)

It's good that they can't just force their way into the guy's privacy, but don't they have reasonable grounds to get a warrant which should force the guy to allow them "entry" as such?

Re:Warrant? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665715)

Border guards aren't required to have a warrant to search items that you are bringing into or removing from the country.

Re:Warrant? (1)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665809)

In that case I'm not so sure the judge made the right decision. How is inspecting the insides of a locked trunk different to inspecting the contents of an encrypted harddrive?

Re:Warrant? (2, Insightful)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665865)

With a locked trunk, you don't have to give them the key, they can break it open. This same applies to the encrypted data. It's their problem if their tools to break it aren't good enough.

What about the IRS forcing me to fill out 1040? (0)

rumcho (921428) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665609)

Ok, why is it then that when taxpayers refuse to sign their 1040 tax forms they are taken to court and convicted to end up in jail? The 5th amendment to the Constitution gives you the right to refuse to incriminate yourself. The IRS forcing you to sign the 1040 under penalty of perjury DOES JUST THAT! Oh, I know why - because - see, when you get to the court of the IRS it's not a regular court, noooo. It's a TAX COURT. And this means you're screwed until unscrewed! The 1040 tax bullshit would not stand a chance in civil court!

Re:What about the IRS forcing me to fill out 1040? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665747)

or, you could just pay your taxes idiot.

Re:What about the IRS forcing me to fill out 1040? (1)

rumcho (921428) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665783)

Or, you could just bend over and hold on to your toes. which is what you'd probably do since you have no idea what the Constitution stands for, you moron!

Hooray for the judge, for seeing through this. (1)

jbeach (852844) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665615)

I cynically expect that the Feds probably could brute-force crack the password - or just make it boot up to Linux via CD or USB drive, and read or change the password.

No, this smells to me like another test case to try take away another of our few remaining rights as innocent citizens, with "scary child pornographers" as an excuse. The sad thing is, if this guy really is a child porn-hawking scumbag, he might get off because the Feds want more power over the rest of us. Which shows you what their priorities really are.

Re:Hooray for the judge, for seeing through this. (1)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665895)

You, apparently, don't know what you're talking about. This isn't as simple as 'changing' the password. It's a pass-phrase which is used to do the actual encryption. Linux isn't a master-key for encryption.

LOL

You have the right to remain silent. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665625)

Period. End of discussion. They cannot compel your testimony. Not one word can they force you to utter. It is your choice to stand mute and that cannot be used against you.

Anything more than this, compelling you to utter even a single syllable in order to prove your own innocence or guilt, and we don't live in the land of the free anymore.

The Factor (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665635)

Any bets on how long it will be before O'Reilly labels this judge soft on paedophiles?

The good, bad, and the ugly. (2, Insightful)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665643)

The good of this is obvious. In the US, we're guaranteed a certain set of rights, which often get trodden on in the name of justice under the noses of judges willing to look the other way (FBI wire-tapping, anyone?) This will allow for a more guaranteed level to the protection of privacy.

The bad to potentially come of this is when you *know* someone has done wrong, but their rights are protected to keep such things secret. I'm think terrorism, laundering of money, etc, falling into this group.

Last, there's the ugly. There's the pedophiles, rapists, etc, that are able to hide their wares and get away with it. I'm not implying they don't have the same rights, but you've gotta figure there's other potential ill-deeds going on.

Given all three, it's still a right I feel strongly about, and a right thousands of men and women are willing to give their life to protect (crazy looney at the helm, or not). What I'm curious about is whether this would have any affect on the legality of breaking into an encrypted file/filesystem when the owner has denied access.

This happened over a year ago! Way old news... (1)

Doug52392 (1094585) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665661)

The article is from December 2007, and the last action in the case was in January 20008! Hello... are the ./ editors going nuts or something?

Best news out of USA for a long time (3, Interesting)

level4 (1002199) | more than 5 years ago | (#24665697)

I know a lot of people who were getting very nervous about even *visiting* the USA. Think they're overreacting and melodramatic? Think again - all we hear are stories of how foreigners, with no rights, detained by customs, forced to incriminate themselves, forced to give up encryption keys on threat of indefinite detention in stateless legal no-mans-land .. how reasonable it is to worry about it all *that* much is questionable but it's undeniably been a bad trend for a long time.

This, though - an unequivocal restoration of the right to silence, at a border no less - is a *very* welcome development. Let's hope it's the first in a long run of "restoration" decisions as the pendulum swings back from the terrorism bubble.

Really happy to see this. I'm not American, but I was taking no joy whatsoever in watching the previous slide. I'm feeling pretty joyful to see this kind of thing, though - separation of powers worked in the end!

Here's to a few more key decisions like this. Go USA.

So let me get this straight.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665705)

In our great country:

1. Companies don't use encryption to protect my private information for various reasons/excuses...
2. Child pedophiles can(and do) use encryption to protect THEIR private information...
3. AND BOTH ARE LEGAL!?

I totally agree that the judge was totally in the right with his decision, but why the hell aren't companies held completely liable for #1? If Joe Schmo can encrypt his data to the point it can't be used, then why should companies NOT be required to be able to encrypt it? They have vastly more resources available to protect their data(and therefore yours and mine). If they aren't compelled to encrypt their data because it's "the right thing to do" then we needs laws requiring it.

All I have to say is this:

To the few people that use child porn as a "witchhunt"

"Hahahahahahaha!"

To the rest(if not all of us) that use our credit card, and it has been compromised by lost backup tapes, hard drives, etc.

"Why the hell do we let this happen to ourselves?"

I have always preferred letting people volunteer for projects, overtime, etc. But when huge companies have to be voluntold how to do "the right thing" then the world is in a sad state of affairs.

Exactly how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665821)

Exactly how are they going to "force" him to divulge the key? Unless we plan to torture him or drug him, I'm pretty sure its ultimately his choice to tell someone his password.

They needed a judge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24665857)

I've known that for years... Man was not made to decrypt hard drives. That's why we have COMPUTERS. Hello are we not on slashdot, the technical center of the internet universe? golly!

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