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US DoJ May Force Accused to Reveal Passwords

An on-going case on Colorado, US based woman accused of mortgage scam will decide whether the US Department of Justice had forced people accused of crimes to decrypt their hard drives.

Ramona Fricosu, accused of running a mortgage has refused to give the password for an encrypted laptop seized from her room.

Her defence lawyer, Phil Dubois, has claimed that giving the password for decrypting the hard drive is a direct violation of his client’s Fifth Amendment, which gives her a right to remain silent.

According to an article on CNET (opens in new tab), the case will be heard on July 22nd by U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn and lawyer plans to file an appeal in case they lost.

The Department of Justice is bearing heavily on the court to force the accused to give up the password but since she has refused to do so, the case’s outcome will set a precedent for future cases which involve digital evidence that has been encrypted.

“Failing to compel Ms. Fricosu amounts to a concession to her and potential criminals (be it in child exploitation, national security, terrorism, financial crimes or drug trafficking cases) that encrypting all inculpatory digital evidence will serve to defeat the efforts of law enforcement officers to obtain such evidence through judicially authorized search warrants, and thus make their prosecution impossible,” the DoJ claims.

Ravi Mandalia

Ravi Mandalla was ITProPortal's Sub Editor (and a contributing writer) for two years from 2011. Based in Ahmedabad, India, Ravi is now the owner and founder of Parity Media Pvt. Ltd., a news and media company, which specializes in online publishing, technology news and analysis, reviews, web site traffic growth, web site UI. Ravi lists his specialist subjects as: Enterprise, IT, Technology, Gadgets, Business, High Net Worth Individuals, Online Publishing, Advertising, Marketing, Social Media, News, Reviews, Audio, Video, and Multi-Media. He has also previously worked as Dy. Manager - IT Security at (n)Code Solutions.