Legal Technology Dilemma: Suspect in Fraud Case Has to Give Unencrypted Hard Drive of Her Laptop to Federal Agents

By

A Colorado fraud case has got many criminal defense attorneys really worked up over the prospect of a suspect being forced to turn over the hard drive of her laptop to federal agents. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court chose not to intercede clearing the way for a lower court’s order that Ramona Fricosu turn over an unencrypted version of the hard drive, according to news reports.

The case has led to questions whether protection against self-incrimination prevents someone from being forced to “unlock a computer's protected files,” reports The Associated Press.

The order from U.S. District Judge Robert E. Blackburn is a "very dangerous precedent that a person may be forced to assist in her prosecution in a way the law has not seen ever before," Phillip DuBois, the suspect’s attorney, told The AP.

Fricosu has to turn the hard drive of the laptop to authorities by Monday. The laptop was already seized by federal agents. During a meeting, Fricosu will enter a password for the laptop and hand it over to the agents so they can copy the hard drive, says The AP. Another once-mentioned option was for her to give her password to the agents.

The case has raised concerns by the Electronic Freedom Foundation. The EFF said in a statement that forcing the woman “to enter a password into an encrypted laptop … would violate her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.”

“The government offered Fricosu some limited immunity, but did not give adequate guarantees that it won't use the information on the computer against her,” EFF claims.

DuBois said his client may not know the password. She is from Romania and is not familiar with computer technology, her attorney charged. "The government has no idea what's on that computer," DuBois added in an article carried on TechZone360.

Fricosu and her husband, Scott Whatcott, allegedly filed fraudulent documents to get title to Colorado homes and then sold the residences without ever paying outstanding mortgages as promised, according to allegations reported by The AP.




Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Coding and Invention Made Fun

By: Special Guest    10/12/2018

SAM is a series of kits that integrates hardware and software with the Internet. Combining wireless building blocks composed of sensors and actors con…

Read More

Facebook Marketplace Now Leverages AI

By: Paula Bernier    10/3/2018

Artificial intelligence is changing the way businesses interact with customers. Facebook's announcement this week is just another example of how this …

Read More

Oct. 17 Webinar to Address Apache Spark Benefits, Tools

By: Paula Bernier    10/2/2018

In the upcoming webinar "Apache Spark: The New Enterprise Backbone for ETL, Batch and Real-time Streaming," industry experts will offer details on clo…

Read More

It's Black and White: Cybercriminals Are Spending 10x More Than Enterprises to Control, Disrupt and Steal

By: Cynthia S. Artin    9/26/2018

In a stunning new report by Carbon Black, "Hacking, Escalating Attacks and The Role of Threat Hunting" the company revealed that 92% of UK companies s…

Read More

6 Challenges of 5G, and the 9 Pillars of Assurance Strategy

By: Special Guest    9/17/2018

To make 5G possible, everything will change. The 5G network will involve new antennas and chipsets, new architectures, new KPIs, new vendors, cloud di…

Read More