Federal judge in Denver rules fraud suspect must unlock her computer


John Ingold
The Denver Post
January 25, 2012

A federal judge in Denver has ruled that a bank-fraud suspect must unlock her computer for prosecutors, in a ruling that civil-liberties advocates say undermines constitutional protections in a digital age.

In an order issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn said requiring Ramona Fricosu to provide an unencrypted version of her laptop’s hard drive to prosecutors does not violate her rights against self-incrimination. Instead, Blackburn ruled that providing the unlocked laptop wouldn’t be self-incriminatory because it wouldn’t prove anything that the government doesn’t already know.

“[I]t is more likely than not that the computer belonged to and was used by Ms. Fricosu,” Blackburn wrote. “Accordingly, I find and conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring production of the unencrypted contents of the … laptop.”

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