In a story I've been reporting on for sometime now, a Federal Appeals Court has ruled that forcing the defendant to decrypt their hard drive would be a violation of their 5th Amendment right. Stating that it would be a kin to forcing an individual to release the combination to a safe. This is the first ruling of it's kind and is a win for 21st century civil liberties which, in my view, have been under attack since the beginning of the century.
The Atlanta court released in a statement:
"First the decryption and production of the hard drives would require the use of the contents of 'Doe's' mind and could not be fairly characterized to a physical act that would be non-testimonial in nature. We conclude that the decryption and production would be tantamount to testimony by Doe of his knowledge of the existence and location of potentially incriminating files; of his possession, control and access to the encrypted portions of the drives; and of his capability to decrypt the files."
As of late several similar cases have cropped up and hopefully the Atlanta Appeals court has put the issue to rest. In my mind this seems like a no brainer from a judiciary stand point, a clear cut case of 5th Amendment right. Yet, the judge in the preliminary case decide to violate the rights of said defendant "Doe." I applaud the Atlanta Appeals Court for making the right decision. Now if only a judge could rule against warrantless wiretapping of American citizens as unconstitutional.