Should the Fifth Amendment Stop Child Porn Suspects From Decrypting Their Hard Drive?

Forcing defendants to decrypt hard disks against their will has long been a thorny issue that may—or may not—violate the Fifth Amendment. The latest case has seen a federal judge refuse to insist that a Wisconsin child porn suspect decrypt the contents of his hard drive—but what do you think?

In a court filing, Judge William E. Callahan wrote about his decision:

"Feldman's act of production, which would necessarily require his using a password of some type to decrypt the storage device, would be tantamount to telling the government something it does not already know with 'reasonably particularity'-namely, that Feldman has personal access to and control over the encrypted storage devices. Accordingly, in my opinion, Fifth Amendment protection is available to Feldman. Stated another way, ordering Feldman to decrypt the storage devices would be in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination."

It's a tough moral question to know what the right course of action is here: is the Fifth Amendment an important right for US citizens, or is it outdated in the modern world? What do you think? [Ars Technica]

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