Federal prosecutors have formally dropped demands that a child-porn suspect give up his encryption keys in a closely watched case, but experts warn the issue of forced decryption is very much alive and is likely to encompass a larger swath of Americans as crypto adoption becomes mainstream.
"I think we're going to see more of this in the courts," said Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The question of whether the government can force a suspect to decrypt hard drives was thrust into the limelight earlier this year when federal authorities suspected a Wisconsin man of downloading child pornography from the file-sharing network e-Donkey. One federal judge ordered the defendant to decrypt as many as nine hard drives seized from the suspect's suburban Milwaukee apartment. Another judge put that decision on hold to analyze the implications of whether the demand breached the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self incrimination.