The Power of Inconvenience

What else could have led this defendant to actually give a border guard a look at PGP-encrypted files on his laptop’s disk drive? Amazing: If Your Hard Drive Could Testify …

Asked whether he had child pornography on his laptop, Mr. Boucher said he was not sure. He said he downloaded a lot of pornography but deleted child pornography when he found it.

Some of the files on Mr. Boucher’s computer were encrypted using a program called Pretty Good Privacy, and Mr. Boucher helped the agent look at them, apparently by entering an encryption code. The agent said he saw lots of revolting pornography involving children.

The government seized the laptop. But when it tried to open the encrypted files again, it could not. A grand jury instructed Mr. Boucher to provide the password.

But a federal magistrate judge quashed that subpoena in November, saying that requiring Mr. Boucher to provide it would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Last week, the government appealed.

Later: In Child Porn Case, a Digital Dilemmapdf