Theodicius

Good. Evil. Bratwurst.

Fifth Amendment

Posted on by arlen

I’ve got some real mixed emotions about the Boucher decision.

I mean, I’m all in favor of the Fifth Amendment. I think it’s necessary to preserve our liberties, especially today when the federal government seems intent on taking them away in the name of security.

I just don’t see any sort of meaningful difference between a password and the key to a locked room/box/safe. If I’m the target of a legally obtained search warrant, I can be forced to provide a key for a strong box. How is that different from a password for an encrypted file?

Even more to the point, the judge can compel me to provide the combination for a safe that might be the legitimate target of a search. Tell me, please, just how that possibly differs from the password for a computer file.

I’m definitely not in favor of giving the government carte blanche to search everyone everywhere. There are specific tests they must meet in order to be granted the right to search, and the warrants have to be specific about what they can find and take away.

But given those measures are satisfied, I’m completely at a loss how any reasonable judge can draw a distinction between the combination to a safe and the password to a computer, saying you have to divulge the one but not the other.

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