Colorado Woman Ordered to Decrypt Laptop to Reveal Incriminating Evidence

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kris79

I remember our past presidents' magical words... "I do not recall"...
Also works for representatives of Solyndra, Tim Geithner, Eric Holder, etc. etc.

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LatiosXT

Now I know this isn't the most reliable place, but when I also saw this on that image board website that shall not be named, some posters said that the woman basically admitted that there was evidence on her laptop at some point.

Now if someone could pull that up, then we can put this to rest because herself saying that means there is no incrimination of 5th amendment rights and her Miranda Rights were clearly in play.

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tkid124

warrant was issued for her house to be searched
House was searched
Laptop was found
She called her hubby who was in jail/prison on 'state charges'
During that conversation they talked about her laptop, and they (cops) finding 'it'.
"Scott: OK (pause) and did you have any something like anything
on your computer to protect it or something
Ramona: yeah"
Since only 1 laptop was encrypted, and was named "RS.WORKGROUP.Ramona"
They got a warrant to search said laptop. (This is a new warrant, in the same way a new warrant would be issued for a safe that was found in a house.)
In the original laptop warrant they asked for the password, the judge said that a password was knowledge in her head and protected by the 5th amendment.
They issued a new warrant for access to an un-encrypted copy of the hard drive.

The judge ordered: (1-4 paraphrased)
1. The search warrant is granted
2. Her Motion for Discovery is granted
3. The government will give her lawyer a copy of the hard drive, by Feb 6th
4. She shall then give the government an unencrypted copy of the hard drive, by Feb 21st
"5. That the government SHALL BE precluded from using Ms. Fricosu’s act of production of the unencrypted contents of the computer’s hard drive against her in any prosecution?

This entry is made in good faith, if I misplaced or overlooked a fact, I'm sorry.

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pcjunklist

don't post responses if you don't read the full 10 page report from the judge. The judge stated:
1:The agents scanned the pc image and retrieved her name on the workgroup
2:She stated in a taped conversation from jail that she had incriminating evidence on the that specific laptop and that she had taken steps to protect it.

So the judge ruled that the prosecution has proved that it's her laptop and that it contains the documents that are illegal. The judge also has stated that she HAS IMMUNITY from anything found on the laptop and nothing found on the laptop can be used against her. It's not self incrimination if you have immunity!

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Bullwinkle J Moose

Please provide a link to the jailhouse recording of her stating that she had incriminating evidence on her laptop or please refrain from posting hearsay

She was granted immunity from prosecution for providing an unencrypted copy of the contents
SHE WAS NOT GRANTED IMMUNITY FROM THE CONTENTS THEMSELVES!

This has been covered in other articles already

Google this > Judge orders defendant to decrypt laptop
Read the CNN tech arcticle that come up and realize how wrong you are!

It has NOT been proven that her laptop contains documents that are ILLEGAL

If you want us to believe that there IS such evidence then show us the evidence!

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aarcane

There are a number of issues here. First and foremost is the right to freedom from self incrimination; the fifth amendment. The information she may or may not be hiding is documents, written by her, therefore her speech, and protected under the constitution.

The second amendment also applies. Strong Cryptography is classified as a weapon in the US (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography_in_the_United_States ). This woman has a right to bear arms. Denying her the use of cryptography before she's convicted is a direct violation of her second amendment rights.

Fourth amendment doesn't really come into play. The prosecutors have access to what was warranted: The contents of the hard drive and laptop. If this is nothing but encrypted data, so be it. When this happens in baseball we use the term "Swing and a miss". Using the gangster analogy from below, if you crack open the mobster's vault, and there's nothing useful inside, the investigators are simply out of luck. They cannot force the gangster to tell the location of their secret stash.

A cunning lawyer may also be able to spin the first amendment into this. The court is trying to control what she can, or rather, what she HAS TO say.

If her lawyer is bold enough, he might try to petition for a dismissal with prejudice on the grounds of failure to provide a speedy trial, forcing them to brute force or proceed without the encryption key.

Ultimately, in no case should ANYONE EVER provide the decryption key to an encrypted device, NOR should they EVER provide decrypted copies of files on demand. It's the digital equivalent of throwing your change at a bully and thanking him for lightening your load.

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EthicSlave

or have a doctor friend declare she has temporary amnesia from that hit and run she walked in front of a few days back

I mean cmon "people are gonna lie in court. The police do it all the time. All the time. Yes they do. It’s part of their job to protect, to serve, and to commit perjury whenever it supports the state’s case." [George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008)] R.I.P.

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HiGHRoLLeR038

Just run DBAN and say, okay the decryption is running, this could take a while. problem solved lol

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phrank47

To me she shouldn't have to provide the info. How could they say that it is not the same as forcing you to tell them something. How could this be okay but if you knew where a kid was and didn't want to tell them. I think the supreme court will reverse this when it reaches there if it does.

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bloodgain

Oh, hey, on another note, this is intriguing.

Apparently, in the Sebastien Boucher case, the magistrate judge's ruling that Boucher's release of the encrypted key was self-incriminating was overturned for 2 reasons. First, the request was changed from turning over the encryption key to producing the files unencrypted to the grand jury. Second, it was declared not to be self-incriminating because the existence and location of the documents were already known.

When the existence of the subpoenaed material is previously unknown to the government or where production would implicitly authenticate the documents, the act of producing documents in response to a subpoena can be considered incriminating (slight paraphrase from the ComputerWorld article here: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9128920/Judge_upholds_efforts_to_compel_individual_to_decrypt_drive_in_child_pornography_case).

So this could play out differently. Turning over the encryption key could be protected under the 5th Amendment, and since the prosecution does not know what they will find yet, it could still be protected. It might be akin to the prosecution saying, "we know you have evidence against you hidden in there -- hand it over!"

I haven't read the judge's full decision, but the circuit court could very well see things differently. I'm curious to see how this turns out.

I'm also curious how "Law & Order: SVU" will use it in an episode this season.

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Eoraptor

it probably won't, since SVU is unlikely to be renewed... CSI on the other hand....

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bloodgain

I find the several cases where this has come up laughable:

"I'm sorry -- in the stress of these proceedings, I seem to have forgotten the password."

Go ahead, stick me with a contempt/obstruction charge. You just have to prove that I actually do know the password. Even if it sticks, I'll take that over whatever other crime I'm trying to hide.

I plan to avoid being in that situation by *not* committing fraud or downloading child porn, so this is all academic. But if I did, I'm with Biceps -- I think I'd try to do better than hide incriminating evidence on an encrypted laptop.

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Eoraptor

Not I... Assuming I had committed a crime, here's the choice; be found in contempt and locked up in county with all the drug dealers, gang bangers, crack whores, mad dog murderers who just burned down their ex wife's house with their ex wife in it, until such time as I comply with the judge's order to release the information...

or decrypt it and quietly go do my eight to ten in a nice federal prison with the other white collar criminals.

Obstruction and contempt are not the easy rides people seem to think.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

Hmm

It is my understanding that the closed source encryption sold by U.S. Corporations are ALL backdoored for Gov't use

Of course the Gov't and Corporations will not respond to such claims and those who know nothing about such concerns quickly dismiss them without giving them a second thought and without any proof of their existence

Since the Gov't and Corporations would not be allowed to discuss such a possibility if it were true, and would need to make the public believe that they cannot break the encryption or access the encrypted data even if they already know what was encrypted and already have access to it, they must make you believe that you are required to decrypt the data to keep their back door secrets "SECRET"

She should not need to give up her password or decrypt the data unless the Gov't can show that the encryption is NOT backdoored by releasing the sourcecode to any encryption they are now demanding a password to..

Untill the sourcecode is released to the public, the Gov't has not shown an actual need for her password!

If they refuse to release the sourcecode, then what are they hiding?
Obviously not copyrights, patents or intellectual property because that is what the courts are for

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Danno25002

I can't decide who makes me laugh more: Nimrod or this space cadet.

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Eoraptor

Take off the tinfoil hats folks... no, the FBI and NSA ~WANTED~ backdoors. They did not, in fact, get them. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/09/fbi-drive-for-encryption-backdoors-is-deja-vu-for-security-experts.ars

What you are proposing is akin to "We are withholding out client's statement until you prove to us the existence of the tooth fairy and other alternative means of supernatural funding."

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Bullwinkle J Moose

The article you linked to did not prove that it is not already being done!

If the Feds are not authorized to discuss the matter or ARE authorized and under order to disseminate false info to hide what they are doing, then they have reason to keep the source code hidden or simply hide the encryption scheme in hardware

The courts are there to protect your intellectual property if you actually have a secure encryption scheme so there is no point in keeping it secret

You CANNOT however prove it is secure by hiding the sourcecode and there is no valid reason for doing so unless it is backdoored

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tony2tonez

I was under the same impression that you couldn't have a security encryption that the US government could not get into, if they needed to.
I could be wrong, but thats what I thought.

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ddimick

Yes, you're definitely wrong.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

The Gov't and Corporations would not be allowed to respond to such claims due to either "National Security Claims" or non-disclosure agreements but would instead be required to make you "believe" that your data is secure so they can make a profit from spying on everything you do by selling you the spyware that only "They" can control

It is basically the same argument I used the other day for DRM Spyware!
If I am not allowed to control and limit how "They" use "Their" computers, then I simply refuse to allow some "Unidentified" individuals to profit at my expense by doing exactly that to me

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Biceps

Perhaps people should stop keeping incriminating things on their computers, or should install programs that wipe the drive if their PC is tampered with.

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warptek2010

And we could also all shave our heads and recite the govt. mantra every morning while drinking the govt. koolaide all while being under constant surveillance by big brother.

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Carlidan

What the f***K response is that? What relevance does your response has expect your usually anti government stuff?

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tony2tonez

I hope she doesn't comply and continues to fight the case. This is big for everyone out there, as the government continues to trample over the constitution.

If you read the article and messages boards that follow on Wired.com. You will read some points, by complying with the court order she will incriminate herself under the 4th amendment.

Its up to the state to crack and decrypt her computer. They issued a warrant to search her home and took the laptop. Now its on them to get the evidence they need to indite her. So, they can't the necessary evidence to indite you but they will try to strong are you into it.

Time to get my Samsung PM810 SSD (FIPS 140-2) as reviewed here on MAXPC. Too bad they didnt get FIPS 140-3.

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Peanut Fox

"The takeaway is that a court has ruled the Fifth Amendment doesn't always apply to encrypted computers, and in this case, the judge stated it could "require significant resources and may harm the subject computer" if authorities tried to decrypt the laptop on their own."

I thought this was kind of the point of encrypting a device in the first place?

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big_montana

Obviously the government forensics experts do not know how to clone an encrypted drive, as that is what you do before trying to hack the encryption key, and then only on the cloned drive(s) not the original so the defense cannot come back and say the prosecution tampered with the laptops contents.

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Eoraptor

yes, but think of an encrypted hard drive as being like a mobster's Vault... the cops can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars chopping and blasting their way in,and potentially destroy the very evidence they are after, or they can compel the mobster to cough up the combination to the lock and any key to it.

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nsvander

I say let them hack and chop their way in, if they destroy the evidence then you go free, the worse you could face would be an obstruction of justice charge.

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angryrocker4

This is forced self incrimination, it's not like an email that's sent out to other parties who can turn things over willingly. If the laptop is considered evidence and they're unable to decrypt it, that's their problem and legally it is their burden. Forcing her to do it is the same logic as a forcing a confession (if she is guilty), which also happens all the time.

Presumption of innocence means this should not ever happen. Its just like how circumstantial evidence alone gets people convicted when it can only be used to support physical evidence, legally that is. But cops, judges, and prosecutors only care about their arrest/conviction rates and jurors think it's their job to convict, thanks tv.

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Eoraptor

Actually, it's not self incrimination. If law enforcement comes to your house with a legal warrant that says you have to submit to a search of that property, you cannot simply lock your bedroom door and refuse to let them in there. You either have to unlock the door for them, or be arrested and hauled away for interference and they'll kick the door in. (which is the fear here, that kicking the encrypted door in may destroy the very evidence being sought)

The real test should not be in whether or not the laptop can be legally ordered decrypted, but that only evidence of the crime specifically called out in the warrant be used if found. IE if they are seeking evidence of a financial crime like bank fraud, they can't turn over any torrented movies they find for DMCA violations, because it would be outside the scope of the warrant and not in plain sight (plain sight being that they shouldn't have been opening movie files when they were looking for excel and document files the same as they couldn't search your toilet tank for drugs if the warrant only cited your shower)

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big_montana

Sorry, but she does not have to provide the encryption key, as there are means to clone encrypted drives and then use force brute attacks to break the encryption. Really, doesn't anyone watch NCIS LA, as they break encrypted drives in 30 seconds and less all the time? (that last statement was sarcasm, people)

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Carlidan

LOL is was like what? really 30 seconds. I thought a 256-bit encryption could take years at best.

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big_montana

You don't watch TV I take, where they always crack encryption in like 30 seconds, from a cell phone feed no less. That is what is hilarious.

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Carlidan

Hey Montana, could you provide links to them cracking encryption. Tried ever possible search and couldn't get any video links. Thanks.

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Carlidan

Not that much Tech Tv stuff. I guess I could google it, I check how they do it. :)

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opticallog

Exactly. Just because the government obtains a warrant to search your house, doesn't mean you're compelled to show them what you've hidden in the house. It's their job to incriminate you within the bounds of the law, not your job.

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praetor_alpha

What she should have done is encrypted it, then put the only copy on Megaupload. Whoops! Guess we will have to go after the FBI for destruction of evidence.

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tony2tonez

Haha, that is a epic comment.

Or she put the password on a file and uploaded to megaupload.

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Eoraptor

It will be interesting to see how these cases turn out. I personally hold to the Lockbox theory, that materiel on an encrypted laptop is not equivalent to speech and self-incrimination(because most of it is not infact the user's speech, but stuff they have downloaded) but instead is evidenciary, and no different that contents held in other hidden locations such as lock boxes and safe deposit boxes for which a warrant for a key can be obtained, but which are covered under the fourth, not the fifth, amendment.

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CaptainFabulous

Yeah, I agree with you on this, and don't understand why others seem to think it's some kind of 5th Amendment issue.

I also find it funny that some people are advocating it as a way to avoid being prosecuted for a serious crime. If she's guilty she should go to jail. Encrypting your hard drive to hide evidence shouldn't be a loophole that lets criminals walk free.

Obviously she's got something to hide on there she doesn't want them to see, otherwise you'd just decrypt the drive and let them have at it.

Either way she's going to jail. Either cause she's guilty or because she'll be in contempt.

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ddimick

I agree with everything you wrote except this:

"Obviously she's got something to hide on there she doesn't want them to see, otherwise you'd just decrypt the drive and let them have at it."

Encrypting data should not create a presumption of guilt any more than locking your car, home, etc. You can't have it both ways.

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CaptainFabulous

Statements like this only matter in ethics classes. If you're on the hook for 20+ years in jail, and you know there is nothing on your encrypted hard drive that is going to finger you in any way why would you raise a stink about it? You wouldn't. You wouldn't care about precedent, or the future, or the Constitution. You would only care about ending the nightmare.

So while legally you can't say "well she must be guilty cause otherwise she would just decrypt the drive", in all likelihood she *IS* guilty, otherwise she would just decrypt the drive.

Now if she were some kind of activist who is trying to prove a point or enact change, then I could see trying to turn it into a privacy and/or 5th Amendment issue. But she's not. She's only trying to cover her ass and stay out of jail, despite it being painfully clear that's exactly where she belongs.

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Carlidan

The question is why should she? Most likely those encrypted files is the only leverage she has to avoid prosecution or get a better deal because there are probably can get bigger fishes with those encrypted files. There is a reason they want it. I think the already have enough evidence without the laptop to convict her. So there must be something more on the encrypted files they want.

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tony2tonez

but that's the prosecutors burden of proof to prove. They 'believe' there is evidence on there to prosecute her on. But if he she gives in and just open as you say, then that sets a precedent right there and will only give the government more power to intrude on civil liberties

Does it sound a like a loophole, yes. That's why this case will be important and will make headlines.

If you were her, what would you rather be guilty in bank fraud charges or guilty in contempt? 7+yrs or 18months for contempt?

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CaptainFabulous

As far as I'm concerned it's not an intrusion. They have a warrant for the contents of the drive. If you do not produce the contents of the drive you are in contempt. It's pretty cut and dried. The contents being encrypted really has no bearing (which is what the judge concluded). It would be no different if she refused to disclose the location of the hard drive the prosecution knew existed, or if the hard drive were in a locked safe. The court orders it to be reviewed. End of story. Attempts to circumvent the court's order is contempt. There is no 4th or 5th Amendment issue here.

Giving the prosecution access to information for which a warrant exists does not constitute self-incrimination. Now if the court tried to tell her she had to give the prosecution the exact name and location of documents on her drive that would incriminate her, well THEN you'd have a 5th Amendment issue. But otherwise, no.

And I have heard of situations where people can be held indefinitely for contempt of court, so I'm not sure going that route really gains her anything. It's also not clear if the prosecution absolutely needs what's on the drive to make their case, so again, there's a good chance she really doesn't have anything to gain. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

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tony2tonez

But what if its content she created and had encrypted? Just because you downloaded doesnt mean it came from someone else. I could upload files elsewhere as a backup and download them when i need them.

Under your lock box there makes sense because you can get a warrant for them where a key is probably with the issuer, but what about the password in this case? 2 options are, to get the person being charged to release it or try and decrypt it yourself.

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TommM

Beat me to the punch - I completely agree. This is no different than a court ruling mandating that someone's safe be opened up as part of a case investigation.

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ddimick

This is absolutely correct, but don't tell that to the rest of the legal experts on the intrewebz. :P

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Bullwinkle J Moose

The arguments used in the interwebs are rediculous when you refuse to allow those same arguments against Big Corporations

Here are are few gems that crop up

1. why doesn't she just decrypt it if she has nothing to hide?

Well, lets use that argument for closed source software then and lets see what is encrypted on Corporate drives, their COE's personal drives and All Gov't drives

After all, if you have nothing to hide, then why hide it?

Or
We know you are committing crimes so just give me the source code to convict you and I promise not to prosecute you for giving me the evidence against you. We will only convict you on the evidence you give us

If you have ever been a victim of the Gov't or a Corporation, you know exactly what I'm saying

If you work FOR the Gov't or a big Corporation, you just don't understand, no matter how much evidence is presented to you

Everyone else however, GETS IT!

2. She would not be incriminating herself by giving up the password

Well, then why do you need a password?

The only way she could possibly incriminate herself by giving up the password is if she has evidence of a crime in the encrypted data

So if there IS evidence of a crime in the encrypted data, she is protected from self incrimination and DOES NOT have to give up the key

If she DOES NOT have evidence of a crime in the encrypted data, she STILL does not have to give up the key

Either way, she does not have to give up the key unless the Law is Applied the same way to criminals in the Gov't and big Corporations

Give US your keys, your encrypted data and sourcecode so we can use it all against you in both a Valid Court of Law By US and for US instead of BY ONLY YOU and FOR ONLY YOU!

Untill that happens we will continue to try you in the Court of public opinion with the same arguments you use against US!

As long as you continue to make demands of the public that they cannot make of YOU, well.....I believe that is called WAR!

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