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Encryption and Self-Incrimination

 Brian Williams writes -

>  Bill Stewart writes;
> >Assuming the arrest warrant was good not revealing the key to a
> >duly authorized court representative would be illegal (ie
> >interfereing with a police investigation). If the courts serve a
> >warrant for your arrest and the confiscation of data on your hard
> >drive (and you refuse to turn the data over even after talking w/
> >an attorney) is specificaly mentioned you are opening
> >yourself up for another whole world of legal hurt.
> >A citizen would have the legal right to refuse prior to talking w/
> >an attorney but not after, at that point it becomes witholding
> >evidence.
> >If the process is legal there should be no reason a citizen can
> >refuse to turn over his private keys (I don't believe
> >self-incrimination holds here).
> Bill, help me out here, if the warrant allows them to confiscate
> your harddrive that part I can understand, But if being forced to
> provide the decryption isn't self-incrimination, what the hell good
> is what we're doing here.

That's a good question, Bryan, and one I'm sure we'd all like
to explore further. Can one be legally compelled to divulge the
secret key(s) to encrypted data? Or does it fly in the face of

I CC:'d Mike Godwin on this because I'd value his views on this
topic, if he'd care to express them. Being an attorney with
considerable experience in digital matters, he may have an insight
into this that we may be overlooking.


Paul Ferguson                         
Sprint Managed Router Network Engineering              tel: 703.904.2437 
Herndon, Virginia  USA                              e-mail: [email protected]