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Submission + - Defendant Ordered to Decrypt Laptop Claims She Had Forgotten Password 5

wiedzmin writes: A Colorado woman that was ordered by a federal judge to decrypt her laptop hard-drive for police last month, appears to have forgotten her password. If she does not remember the password by month’s end, as ordered, she could be held in contempt and jailed until she complies. It appears that bad memory is now a federal offense.
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Defendant Ordered to Decrypt Laptop Claims She Had Forgotten Password

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  • Held in contempt for how long? Can they keep you there forever? What if she actually forgot the password?

    I have a way around this problem for future laptop encrypters: The encryption software should be written to automatically change passwords, reencrypt, or securely delete data if the correct password isn't entered at least once in any, say, 24 hour period. That would make it impossible for the person to comply with the order, and keep them out of jail for contempt.

    Alternatively, make the password be 1

    • by evanism ( 600676 )

      You can be held for contempt forever. You are in a legal black hole that no lawyer can pull you from.

    • There isn't a practical way to do this. Forensics is going to immediately shut down your computer and pull the drive. Then they will simply make an image of the drive so there is no possible way to ruin the original data.
      • by jonwil ( 467024 )

        Many arcade games in the past have used battery backed CPUs and RAM to contain secret encryption keys for the games.
        It should be possible to combine similar technology with a GPS chip (also powered by the battery) so that any attempt to move the computer (either powered on or off) will erase the encryption keys. Can easily give it enough wiggle room in the logic to account for the inaccuracies in GPS and a special secret must-use-before-moving method to disable the system if you need to move it to a new loc

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