5th Amendment and Passwords

Are Passwords Protected by the 5th Amendment?


I never really thought about it. Until, that is, I read a recent article in a tech e-newsletter I get. It seems that authorities seized the computer system of a suspected white-collar criminal. The hard drive was encrypted with some type of whole-drive encryption (similar to what is implemented in Windows 7).
Image of a key hole for an old fashioned lock.

Give Us the Password!

Of course, authorities wanted to force the suspect to provide the password. That, said the suspect, would violate his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Here’s a good example of the way that current laws don’t fit in the cyber-age. Of course, the encryption could be broken, but at what cost? And with what kind of a delay? Depending on the sophistication of the encryption, it could take years to break the code.

Whole Drive Encryption May Be Important for Corporate Security

I suppose this comes down to a couple of points:
(a) You should learn how to turn on the Microsoft bitlocker (encryption) technology if you plan to commit white collar crime, and
(b) Cryptography (the study of how to break codes) may be a hot field in the future for those wanting to go into law enforcement.
I still think many people use the old fashioned kind of security: they count on the ignorance of the user to keep things safe.
Bad plan!