Can You Legally Keep Your Password A Secret? - Page 2
The Fifth Amendment, however, protects us from having to share those important (and perhaps incriminating) tidbits of our lives we keep in the locked cabinets of our minds. What’s at stake in the Colorado case just might be our right to keep our thoughts and memories locked up tight from prying eyes. It’s the difference between being compelled to hand over a physical key to a lock, and having to provide a combination from our memory.
Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange is still taking refuge in London, while world courts determine whether or not to extradite him to Sweden on charges of sexual misconduct. Wikileaks gained notoriety when it began releasing tens of thousands of documents with secret details on how many governments work, even to the point of possible national security damage. Some, including Assange himself, have stated the accusations are an attempt to shut down Wikileaks and silence Assange.
If jailed for any crime, Assange says he may release the password code for a publicly shared but encrypted 1.4 GB file entitled “insurance,” presumably a file filled with even more damaging secrets. Like Fricosu, Assange cannot legally be compelled to provide the key to decrypt the file, safely housed in his mind, nor does he have to divulge the contents of the file to authorities, unless he feels like it.
Although cloud-based storage sites such as Google Docs and Dropbox can be legally compelled to provide your information after a search warrant is issued, at this time you cannot be legally compelled to provide the password to your files.
In the Fricosu case, the Department of Justice is digging deep, going as far back as the All Writs Act of 1789, a sweeping declaration of the rights of a court to issue any writ it deems necessary to support the use and principals of the law. Defense attorney Dubois disagrees with the use of the Act, saying its purpose was to aid a judge in fulfilling the law, not in increasing the court’s power beyond current means.Continued on the next page