Advances in technology may be compromising your constitutional rights, particularly your right to avoid incriminating yourself in the course of a criminal trial. If you have encrypted files on your computer, a court may be able to force you to decrypt them so that your personal information can be entered as evidence against you. Legal experts believe this critical issue regarding the Fifth Amendment, which protects criminal defendants from self-incrimination, will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.
A couple recent cases highlight the extent to which the Fifth Amendment may apply to electronic information, particularly electronic information that the defendant has protected with encryption technology.
“The Constitution and the Bill of Right are living and breathing documents that by necessity are interpreted and change with the times,” says Mitch Jackson, an attorney at Jackson & Wilson. “This is especially true when you take technology into consideration.”
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