Is Decrypting Your Files for Law Enforcement Legal?

Originally posted on journalfive.org, February 2, 2012.

Typically, you encrypt files for personal reasons. Maybe it’s because you travel a lot, and don’t want to risk someone ending up with your information, if you lose your device. Sometimes it’s because you are holding sensitive information that can’t be released. Maybe it’s because you’re a journalist and need to protect your sources identities, and anything else they may not want released.

The question though, should you be by law required to hand over the keys/passphrases to decrypt this information? 

Let’s look over some basic citizen laws that are already in place.

The Fifth

This particular Amendment is a “silence” clause. It allows you to in-short “shut up.” It also allows you to not give any evidence against yourself. In the situation that you are charged with a crime, you by law, should never have to provide any evidence that you don’t want to. Even though this typically is not always used, most lawyers would agree to keep the “bad” things out as much as possible. That is another article though.

This particular Amendment is a “no private property should be used for public.” In-short, and in this case, your encrypted files could be considered private. How? It has a password, first of all, and secondly the files are rendered unreadable which is clear enough to state they are meant to be private. 

Call me a “read between the lines” person, but this should mean that any thing on your computer that is encrypted, your online accounts (which have passwords), and practically anything else in your house should not be used within a case. If I’m wrong, then there are evidently tons of laws that are contradicting basic laws. (I’ve said that over half of the laws contradict previous laws, and most laws need to be revised to fit today’s modern civilisation)

To build a successful case against someone, you need information. The information you obtain must indefinitely prove your point, and convince the judge or jury that whatever you say must be golden. However with what is going on with the laws, it’s turned into a way to dive into anything you want to get whatever you want. Basically, you use whatever you can to make the other person look bad, even if it has nothing to do with the case (big tech companies do this all the time)

Sony did it with Hotz. Obtaining his information from various online outlets. Most (and I do) would call this invasion of privacy, and the invasion of privacy upon others. The accounts in-mind were used widely on the Internet, such as the YouTube video. All of the Internet Protocol addresses were supposedly collected – Tell me why the IP address I’m leasing from my ISP should be subjected to a case I am not associated with? (This is obvious abuse)

It’s almost understandable why files would need to be decrypted for a case; Someone obviously wants these files to use against you, but who knows what else is in those files, right? It’s not understandable that you should or could be “forced” to reveal those keys to access those files.

It’s almost like saying your windows should not be tinted, others must be able to see you in your own car.

In other approaches, none of the above will apply if a judge decides to overrule. Some judges may be challenged afterward, but very few are.

Is there something I’m missing?


Voting: If it’s not a Webble-wobble, it’s a Procrastinator

Since Journal Five is in the middle of a services move (temporarily down), I thought I’d post directly from here about the election vote tomorrow, for Mineral County, etc. 


I dipped into politics in Mineral county not too long ago and discovered many frustrated people. It was not often that people would _not_ try to do something, but were often turned away or gave the run-around on particular things. For example, the Vehicle Registrations–I personally think this is a horrible move to Mineral County, shows a lacking effort from the Sheriff and only constitutes extra mileage on peoples’ cars or people attempting to get a car in the long run. Jeremy Taylor (candidate Sheriff) vowed to reinstate the registration at the courthouse which would enable people to commit locally. 

It also came out later that Sheriff Craig Fraley removed it at his own will without consent of the Mineral County Commission (I confirmed this with Michael Bland). So who would want a person in office that did those types of things for their community? I think no one.

As for Education, I can say toward it is that there needs to be fresh ideas. This whole same-ol’-every-year-not-doing-anything-with-the-extra-land-and-when-you-do-it’s-useless-to-the-students-overall-educational-increase thing has got to hit the door. The lack of technological platforms in the education system also bores students. Really, there are several other schools throughout the nation that are adopting tablets and going the eBook route to meet or otherwise lower the budget. This IS doable, considering some of these textbooks flying around cost an arm and over half of the time are outdated – this is pitiful. Vote new people in or take your kids somewhere else.

The next thing?–magistrate. It’s also pitiful that someone with a petty crime is charged maximum, while a robber is charged minimum. Or, it’s pitiful that 2 people with the same crime are charged differently. What is up with this? I won’t throw peoples’ cases out there, because I feel that’d be revealing too much personal information (not that I don’t think it shouldn’t publicly accessible, but rather I don’t want to “target” persons), be but I’m sure you can self-reference examples for yourself. 

It’s about time to put someone in there that will start treating said crimes equally. None of this letting robbers off with the price of a #1 at McDonald’s. For that, I’ve watched Damon Tillman speak at public events and I’ve spoke with him on personal terms about crimes and the associated punishments, I agree with him wholesomely. 

Those three topics are my only concern to the community to speak about publicly, anyway. I’ve plenty of more concerns, but these are the ones I wanted to share about voting – well, there is that whole outsourcing emergency communications thing–come on!