Federal case will decide if the government can make you decrypt your laptop

decrypt laptopRamona Fricosu is a Colorado woman being taken to court on 22 counts of bank fraud, four counts of wire fraud, five counts of false statements to a financial institution, and seven counts of money laundering charges after being accused of trying to take title to foreclosed homes. While the verdict in this mortgage scam won’t set any precedents, the means to that end might. Fricosu is being asked by the federal court to decrypt her laptop and offer up the information found there.

The encrypted laptop was found in a raid of her home, and while courts have requested decryption for laptops before, the motion usually goes unopposed by the defendant. But Fricosu has denied the proposal, and no US appeals court has ever ruled on whether or not encrypted information falls under a citizen’s right to remain silence.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has rushed to Fricosu’s side, arguing that asking her to decrypt her laptop is unconstitutional, and that encryption is a method that protects individuals’ privacy and security. “The government makes an aggressive argument here that may have far-reaching consequences for all encryption users. Fricosu will be made witness against herself if she is forced to supply information that will give prosecutors access to files they speculate will be helpful to their case but cannot identify without specificity.” The Fifth Amendment keeps plaintiffs from providing self-incriminating information in court, and the EFF as well as Fricosu’s lawyer says this is exactly what the court is asking her to do by decrypting her laptop.

The Department of Justine doesn’t quite see it that way. Prosecutors maintain that they are not demanding Fricosu’s password: She can type it in herself without providing it to anyone. They just want access to what’s behind it. They say it’s like asking for a key to a room full of data necessary to reach a verdict – while the defense team says it’s like asking someone to decipher a diary they’ve purposefully written in code.

How the court decides will affect how personal computer security works. If it’s ruled that Fricosu doesn’t have to decrypt her laptop, it will set the precedent in these types of cases and the accused will be able to stand behind this decision. The DOJ has expressed worry that allowing Fricosu to cite the right to remain silent means future criminals can use her as an example and safely hide behind a password.

Music

From Jay Rock to Saba, these are the 50 best albums of 2018

We've spent the year listening to new albums, digging deep, and culling our master list into 50 favorites. From blockbuster releases to hidden gems, these are the best albums of 2018.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Computing

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.
Gaming

With our Steam guide, you can give the gift of gaming this holiday season

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.
Photography

Forget painting-style transfers, this A.I. creates realistic portraits of fake people

Do these images look computer-generated? Nvidia researchers recently published a paper on a new variation on style transfer artificial intelligence that's able to generate entirely new portraits.
Computing

Leaked HP laptop listing reveals entry-level Nvidia MX250 GPU

Alongside powerful graphics cards, Nvidia may have more mobile GPUs to show off at next year's CES show in January. The MX250 has been spotted in a listing for an HP laptop, potentially replacing the entry-level MX150.
Computing

ZSpace’s laptop brings education to life with its own 3D technology

The ZSpace laptop wants to overhaul education and training by offering affordable access to 3D mixed reality through a bespoke screen and glasses technology that is already supported by a wide array of applications.
Computing

Former Microsoft intern claims Google may have sabotaged Edge browser

Google's Chrome web browser has been able to establish such dominance that Microsoft is abandoning its web rendering engine, switching Edge over to Chromium, but did Google play dirty in an attempt to force Microsoft to make the decision?
Computing

ViewSonic’s 1080p gaming monitor lets you experience the action in style

ViewSonic is catering to gamers with its latest monitor, the XG240R. Featuring a 1080p 144Hz panel, RGB lighting, and a fast 1ms response time, you can conquer your opponents and do it in style.
Computing

Here’s why you might still be using Wi-Fi after cellular 5G launches

Cellular 5G might be around the corner and promising to deliver lightning fast speeds, but the folks over at the Wi-Fi Alliance have a few reasons why they think you shouldn't dump Wi-Fi just yet.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Computing

Detangle your desk with a mighty wireless mouse. Here are our six favorites

If you're looking for the best wireless mouse on the market, we've got the list for you!. These six models have something for everyone, whether you're a hardcore gamer or simply looking to ward off carpal tunnel.
Web

Canceling Amazon Prime is easy, and you might get a refund

Don't be intimidated. Learning how to cancel Amazon Prime is easier than you might think. You might even get a partial or full refund on the cost, depending on how much you've used it. Check out our quick-hit guide for doing so.