Man Jailed After He Failed To Decrypt Hard Drives

/ 7 years ago


If there’s one argument (other than the political arguments) that is on everyone’s mind, it is the one about encryption. With Apple and the FBI going at each other with one legal case after another, it was only a matter of time before a new case appeared that showed the battle of the law vs encryption. In this case, a man has been jailed after he failed to decrypt hard drives he was being ordered to decrypt.

In the U.S. the fifth amendment protects you from self-incrimination, meaning that you don’t have to provide evidence if it would make you look guilty. This means that it is purely the responsibility of the government and the police to prove your guilt, they cannot make you say you are guilty. After failing to get a result they liked at the district court, investigators approached a federal court who invoked the controversial All Writs Act.

The All Writs Act can give the court power to force people to co-operate and perform actions within a criminal investigation. The man arrived at the district attorney’s office to provide passcodes for the hard drives, only to refuse to explain when they didn’t work. As a result of failing to explain why the passcodes weren’t working, the gentlemen was held in contempt of court and sent to jail.

The counter-argument being made against the claims of indecent images being present on the hard drive is that the government cannot force him to unlock the drive to prove that something illegal may be present if they cannot already prove that something illegal is present on the hard drive. Once again the legal system seems to be pushing the All Writs Act against the fifth amendment, a set of rules that some consider fundamental to the American way of life.

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