Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The authorities own your computer.....who knew?
The rapid adoption of computers into every facet of our lives has introduced some interesting legal issues. Perhaps the most important is the right to privacy and how far the authorities can go to find dirt on you....
From Wired.com -- A judge on Monday ordered a Colorado woman to decrypt her laptop computer so prosecutors can use the files against her in a criminal case.
The defendant, accused of bank fraud, had unsuccessfully argued that being forced to do so violates the Fifth Amendment’s protection against compelled self-incrimination.
For now, I'm on the side of individual privacy. I don't like the idea of the authorities being able to seize your computer to find yet undiscovered "proof" of your crimes. That means they also have access to your diary, mail, notepads, whatever medium they think has evidence that you did something wrong.
This particular civil rights slope is a tad slippery to me. The law will have to be written to be much less broad. Perhaps before they're allowed to search your personal computer, they have to possess other sourced proof of your guilt.....or something like that.
If you own an encrypted personal computer, it's probably a good idea to have a re-format trigger so that if the authorities try to force you to unlock it, you can easily destroy it with a few key strokes.