Encryption

Feds Crack Hard Drives of Child Porn Suspect Who Refused to Give Password

Had become a Fifth Amendment showdown

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Federal authorities have cracked two encrypted drives they say are filled with child pornography in a case showing the limits of encryption and highlighting a novel legal issue in which the government has been trying to force the defendant to decrypt the drives to aid his prosecution.

The defendant, Jeffrey Feldman, was arrested in Wisconsin on accusations of three counts of receiving and possessing child pornography.

Tuesday's arrest came months after the authorities told a federal judge that they were unable to decrypt the drives and needed the defendant to disclose his passwords — a proposition that set the stage for a showdown over the constitutional right against compelled self incrimination versus the government's need to access data. In June, the authorities also urged the court to demand Feldman to fork over his passcodes, saying the suspect could "forget his passwords."

An FBI agent said in court documents Tuesday there were seven more drives needing decryption, and for the moment it's unclear whether the judge presiding over the case will order Feldman to decrypt them.