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Encryption as Evidence of Criminal Intent

From Bruce Schneier's blog (syndicated on LJ as bruce_schneier):
Encryption as Evidence of Criminal Intent

An appeals court in Minnesota has ruled that the presence of encryption software on a computer may be viewed as evidence of criminal intent.

I am speechless.
Read Bruce's blog entry and comments for more discussion on the topic.

I don't know if I'm speechless or not, but I am more than a little concerned. I'll have to look into the specifics a little deeper, 'cause it might not be as troubling as it appears. For example, one of the comments on Bruce's blog entry attempts to put it in perspective:
This really isn't that big of a deal. This is the same as finding a guy in a car, driving around a residential neighborhood slowly, and finding a ski mask, lock picking tools, and a flashlight in his car. Everything is legal, but may be admitted in court to try to prove criminal intent.

One piece of evidence alone will not help a prosecutor very much, but if you can get enough pieces of the puzzle together, the picture becomes alot clearer. FWIW
Maybe. I can already see that it will be very easy to start down the slippery slope on either side of this argument.

Comments

partywhipple
May. 26th, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC)
I don't think I care about the case at all. What I care about is if the encrypted files imply criminal intent then can't the police, having interecpted an email I sent which is encrypted, say it is enough to get a warrent to search my house? Perhaps I am reading too much into this but it seems like it is setting precedent which can be used to do other privacy crushing things...
prester_scott
May. 26th, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC)
Nothing was said here about encrypted files, though, just the fact that he had PGP installed on his computer.

Again, in conjunction with MANY other pieces of circumstantial evidence, the fact that he had PGP *could* establish intent. But the evidence in this case (again, if the news article is telling the whole story) was pretty weak.

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