Judge's order raises issue over encrypted evidence

January 25, 2012

A federal judge has ordered a woman to provide an unencrypted version of her laptop's hard drive in a ruling that raises the question of whether turning over a password amounts to self-incrimination.

The Denver Post reports that U.S. Robert Blackburn decided requiring Ramona Fricosu to provide the contents of her computer doesn't violate her Fifth Amendment protections. Blackburn says the content of the computer adds nothing to what the government already knows.

Friscosu's attorney, Philip Dubois, says he plans to appeal Monday's ruling.

Prosecutors say allowing criminal defendants to beat by encrypting their computers would make it impossible to obtain evidence.

Civil-liberties groups across the country are opposing the government. They're calling it a test of rights against self-incrimination in a digital world.

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