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Can you be forced to hand over your password if the encrypted data incriminates you?

By  Jan 28, 2008

Topics: Security

I received this question via an email from an acquaintance. The actual question revolves around a kiddie porn case where all the kiddie porn is stored in an encrypted file. The government is trying to force the suspect to give up his password, which he is obviously not inclined to do. Can he be forced to turn it over?

The case is outlined at Washington Post and you can read responses from numerous people in the security field at LinkedIn.

Overall, the answers are split. Some see this as being forced to hand over a key to your house, and others see it as a 5th Amendment issue. While the specifics of this case make me want to sit on the side of the government, I have a really hard time swallowing the idea that I can be forced to give up information that could potentially incriminate myself.