You Can Always Say No

 Posted on January 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

Gideon brings us news of a federal case in Vermont in which the judge has refused to force the accused to reveal the password that he used to PGP-encrypt the kiddie porn on his computer, even though the accused had already used the password to show agents what was on the computer.

This is, of course, a good ruling for liberty. In a world of sneak-and-peaks and warrantless wiretaps, it allows us to maintain a preserve of privacy into which the government cannot force its way. Apparently the USCBP doesn't yet have the quantum computers that would be needed to crack the RSA algorithm. If NSA's got that technology, they're not sharing. Download PGP today, and start using it.

According to the Washington Post article,

Orin S. Kerr, an expert in computer crime law at George Washington University, said that Boucher lost his Fifth Amendment privilege when he admitted that it was his computer and that he stored images in the encrypted part of the hard drive. "If you admit something to the government, you give up the right against self-incrimination later on," said Kerr, a former federal prosecutor.

That reminded me of one of our law school classmates who, when we were discussing the law of rape in first-year criminal law class, asked the professor, "if you consent to have sex with someone once, does that mean you've consented for always?"

Um, no.

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