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US Case: Infinite Jail Contempt for Disk Crypto, 5th Amndmnt, All Writs, FileVault, Freenet CHKs


Amici Curiae by EFF and ACLU

A Philadelphia man suspected of possessing child pornography has been in
jail for seven months and counting after being found in contempt of a court
order demanding that he decrypt two password-protected hard drives. The
suspect, a former Philadelphia Police Department sergeant, has not been
charged with any child porn crimes. Instead, he remains indefinitely
imprisoned in Philadelphia's Federal Detention Center for refusing to
unlock two drives encrypted with Apple's FileVault software in a case that
once again highlights the extent to which the authorities are going to
crack encrypted devices. The man is to remain jailed "until such time that
he fully complies" with the decryption order. The government successfully
cited a 1789 law known as the All Writs Act to compel (PDF) the suspect
to decrypt two hard drives it believes contain child pornography. The All
Writs Act was the same law the Justice Department asserted in its legal
battle with Apple.