NACDL - Defending Device Decryption Cases

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Defending Device Decryption Cases

When law enforcement officers have a warrant to search a phone or digital device that they cannot access or decrypt, they may turn to the courts to compel the device’s purported owner to enter or produce the decryption key – typically a passcode, fingerprint, or faceprint. Case law on “compelled decryption” is sparse. Michael Price and Zach Simonetti address the technology behind encryption, describe the current state of the law, and suggest strategies for any lawyer seeking to challenge a compelled decryption order.