Refuse to Unlock Your Hard Drive? Get An Indefinite Life Sentence!

In recent years, encryption has taken a bad light in the press as people use it to hide malicious or illegal activity while others use it to just protect and keep their details safe. The government has now made a bold move, keeping someone locked away until he unlocks two hard drives containing suspected illegal material.

During a federal appeal court on Monday, federal prosecutors extended the suspects stay in prison, a stay that has already lasted seven months. The condition for his release is to unlock two hard drives that the government claims contains evidence in a case regarding illegal material of underage persons.

The suspect, a Philadelphia police sergeant, is being held until “he complies”. While this isn’t the first case of a user being asked to unlock or hand over passwords for a device to provide evidence against themselves, normally these actions are stopped by the 5th amendment, something that doesn’t apply here because it’s a “foregone conclusion” that the devices in question contain the illegal material so unlocking it won’t prove his guilt, rather just give the authorities the evidence they already know exists.

With no charges officially listed against him, the suspect is still being held in a federal detention center until the two drives, which are encrypted with Apple’s FileVault software, “until such time that he fully complies” according to the federal magistrate’s ruling.

Gareth Andrews

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