A case in Colorado may test the ability of a court to compel a defendant to divulge their password to an encrypted computer. See more here:
Regardless of how this comes out it in Colorado, I’d expect this, or a similar case, will eventually find its way to the Supreme Court. One can only hope that we eventually establish once and for all that we have a right to privacy and a right against self-incrimination.
Meantime you if your computer is not encrypted you can consider yourself a sitting duck for both thieves and the authorities who might get hold of your computer or hard drive.
The article above indicates that
“Authorities were able to access information in five of the computers, but haven’t been able to decrypt the sixth one, a laptop, which is protected by a hard-to-crack encryption program that’s available to the public.”
Any guesses as to which encryption program they used on the laptop? I’d put my money on TrueCrypt. It’s free and easy to use. See my article here for step-by-step instructions to encrypt your hard drive.
Update March 1, 2012
The woman in this case has been ordered to provide an unencrypted version of her hard drive. See here for more details:
I believe this is a set back for privacy in this country. Hopefully one day the gun lobby will take notice and realize that having access to good encryption is even more important to liberty than the right to bear arms.