Published January 24, 2012
A judge has reportedly ordered a Colorado woman to decrypt her laptop computer so prosecutors may use the files against her in a criminal case involving alleged bank fraud.
The defendant, Ramona Fricosu, had unsuccessfully argued that being forced to do so would violate the Fifth Amendment protection against compelled self-incrimination, Wired reports.
“I conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring production of the unencrypted contents of the Toshiba Satellite M305 laptop computer,” Colorado U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn ruled Monday.
The case is being closely watched by civil rights groups, Wired reports, as the issue has never been fully considered by the Supreme Court. Authorities seized the laptop from Fricosu in 2010 with a court warrant while investigating financial fraud.
Blackburn ordered Fricosu to surrender an unencrypted hard drive by Feb. 21. The judge added that the government is precluded “from using Ms. Fricosu's act of production of the unencrypted hard drive against her in any prosecution," Wired reports.