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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?

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