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Friday, 24 February, 2012

Court rules you cannot be compelled to reveal your password

An interesting legal question related to encrypted storage system is: can the police force you to give them your password?

This is particularily relevant for Wuala which uses client-side encryption. Most other cloud storage providers can read your files if they want to and therefore could also hand them over to a court if they think that's appropriate. Wuala works differently. If you have stored a file in Wuala, no one, not even LaCie can read your files. The only way to get access to your files is by knowing your password.

In most legal systems, a court cannot compel you to incriminate yourself. You have the right to remain silent. One could conclude that this includes the right to remain silent when you are asked about your password. However, things are much more complicated than that and it remains unclear to this day.

There are cases like this one in Britain where a teenager was jailed for 16 weeks for refusing to give his password. In a recent US ruling, the court decided that the defendant cannot be compelled to give the password, but to enter it. In the latest US ruling regarding this question, the court ruled that the defendant cannot be compelled to reveal his password or enter it since there was no evidence that the encrypted disk would contain any incriminating data.

Here, here, and here are interesting discussions about this matter.

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Blogger Anonymous said...

intereating post

and in switzerland?

February 24, 2012 17:39 PM

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