A case in Wisconsin is testing the limits of the Fifth Amendment in the digital age. In January, the FBI seized 20 terabytes of hard drives from Jeffrey Feldman, a man accused possessing underage pornography – but could only decrypt 20% of it. Until last week, a federal court judge had placed the burden on the defendant to decrypt the rest or face charges of contempt. Last week, his attorney successfully argued an emergency motion to extend that deadline. She claims that asking Feldman to decrypt files that would be used against him in the case is a violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Declan McCullagh is chief political correspondent and senior writer for C-Net and has been following the story.
Recently CNET reported that the FBI had been lobbying congress for a law that would require social networking companies and other web-based communication systems to make sure their systems are surveillance-compatible. FBI director Robert Mueller seemed to confirm that in an appearance last week before the senate judiciary committee.