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Child porn suspect does not have to decrypt his laptop — for now

Posted at 2:27 PM, Jun 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-05 14:31:35-04

Lisa: In Wisconsin…A child porn suspect has won a reprieve from a federal court order to decrypt his computer files or go to jail.

Yesterday, a federal judge halted the decryption order, and demanded further briefing on the constitutional implications.

The feds believe Jeffrey Feldman downloaded child porn on a file-sharing network. Investigators seized 15 drives and a computer from his apartment. Feldman had until yesterday to decrypt the drives or face contempt of court. Feldman has refused, citing the Fifth Amendment.

Lionel: Here’s what you need to know.

This fascinates me and should the constitutional scholar in you. The Fifth Amendment protects you against compelled self-incrimination, testimonial self-incrimination. But much evidence can be compelled against you like blood evidence, hair samples, finger prints and appearing lineups and the like in order to prove a charge against you. But in the case of possessing child pornography decryption provides the very evidence required for conviction. And this is the essence of the mighty fifth. Possessing these files is the charge. So forcing someone to turn over the evidence that must be proved by the prosecution, that ain`t kosher no matter how despicable the crime.