09 February 2012

Defendant Ordered to Decrypt Laptop May Have Forgotten Password

A Colorado woman ordered to decrypt her laptop so prosecutors may use the files against her in a criminal case might have forgotten the password, the defendant’s attorney said Monday.

“It’s very possible to forget passwords,” the woman’s attorney, Philip Dubois, said in a telephone interview. “It’s not clear to me she was the one who set up the encryption on this drive. I don’t know if she will be able to decrypt it.”
The decryption case is a complicated one, even if solely analyzed on the underlying Fifth Amendment issue. Such decryption orders are rare, and they have never squarely been addressed by the Supreme Court.
The judge refused Friday to suspend his order to allow time for an appeal to the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Dubois, Fricosu’s attorney, said Monday he would petition the appeals court anyway in hopes that it agrees with his position that Judge Blackburn’s order breaches Fricosu’s Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination.

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