Justice Department swipes over online liberty groups
The United States of America’s Department of Justice is taking a swipe at the online civil liberty groups. The liberties are arguing in favor of a Colorado-based woman who is being asked to decrypt her personal laptop for a police investigation. The brief filed by the DOJ will be a trend setting case. The Department claims that the Electronic Frontier Foundation on previous occasions had agreed cooperation in a police investigation. The EFF said that asking individuals to type their pass phrases was legally allowed, and was not violating the individuals’ rights of self-incrimination.
Forcing federal judge to decrypt her laptop
The prosecutors of the case want to force a federal judge Ramona Fricosu to decrypt her laptop. The investigations for a mortgage swindle are underway and during a raid, an encrypted laptop was seized from her bedroom. Ms. Fricosu is charged with several frauds, which include bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. These investigations are a component of the attempted use of false documents that were used to gain illegal access to several homes in Colorado Springs.
The EFF’s guidelines in the Know Your Rights, states that a grand jury can order individuals to disclose their information in an unencrypted manner in some situations. The guidelines are in accordance to the Fifth Amendment, which protects the citizens’ right to remain silent.
Argument of the author
The guidelines were authored by a former public defendant and EFF staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury. According to him, the Department of Justice was not rightly presenting his work. He said that the EFF considers that the given facts in the present case provide the privilege of the Fifth Amendment to Ms. Fricosu. Therefore, the authorities’ attitude of forcing her to encrypt her laptop is not justified. Moreover, the present situation is different from any previous cases, which is forcing the DOJ to try something the agency has not done before. The primary reason of EFF’s involvement in the case was that the agency wants to assist the authorities to understand the law as it must be.
DOJ counter arguments
According to the Justice Department officials, their claim to force Ms. Fricosu to decrypt her laptop is justified because the laptop was seized with a valid search warrant. The officials claim that any evidence found with a search warrant do not implicate the self-incrimination clause as the individuals are not required to make any statements. Finally, the officials say that they are not asking for the para phrase itself but only require Ms. Fricosu to type it in and unlock her files.