Skip Navigation

Scholars Day 2008, Wednesday, April 9

Encryption, Privacy and Self-Incrimination: Balancing Personal Privacy with Governmental Interest

A United States Magistrate Judge has ruled that a man who admitted possessing and transporting illegal files on his laptop across the U.S. / Canada border cannot now be forced to reveal his password; allowing prosecutors to decrypt files which could be used as evidence. The ramifications from this ruling could tip the balance either toward the government’s interest in discovering evidence or strengthening prohibitions against self-incrimination. This is potentially a landmark case that could also impact content-neutral attempts to secure private communication over the Internet, especially in light of U.S. Government covert domestic spying initiatives. The paper explores the potential outcomes from this ruling since the government has filed an appeal. It highlights the tenuous construct of privacy in the United States as being unstated, but implied through the 4th, 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

Presenter: Michael Cavanagh (Faculty)
Topic: Communication
Location: 107 Holmes
Time: 3:15 pm (Session IV)