Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


Encryption is not a crime

I’m not sure how I feel about this.

A Minnesota court has ruled that the presence of encryption software is valid evidence for determining criminal intent. On the one hand, it seems like a severe misunderstanding of how the modern world actually works, given that encryption is absolutely essential for many things we take for granted.

I guess I can see that if there’s other evidence, this might be used as evidence that you have something to hide, but I worry for the situation where there isn’t any other evidence of a crime, and the fact that there’s something to hide becomes the key determining factor.

Everyone has something to hide. It may be private, it may be secret (not the same thing), it may be evidence of a crime, or it may be evidence of something that someone else thinks is a crime but you don’t. For the latter two, that is, of course, why we have a legal system in the first place. For the former two, there are plenty of legal reasons to want to keep those things private or secret.

3 Responses to “Encryption is not a crime”

  1. James Wetterau Says:

    It may not even be “something to hide”. It could conceivably be someone using encryption because she or he thinks it’s important to support universal encryption, even though personally he or she doesn’t care about the privacy of the data.

  2. Asheesh Laroia Says:

    My laptop running Ubuntu has encryption software (GNU Privacy Guard) so it can verify that downloaded software really is written by who I think it is.

    Someone who knows this could try charging me of a crime I didn’t do, and have the courts agree, “Yeah, he has that evil encryption technology,” making my conviction more likely.

  3. Bryan Says:

    If the founding fathers were alive today, they should be locked up in a pound-me-in-the-***-prison. Obviously they were criminal-loving commie pinkos.

    Innocent people have nothing to hide.

    Amendments 4, 5, 6, 7, and 14 unnecessarily grant rights that good, innocent people do not need, instead allowing guilty, evil people to hide behind their legal trickery!

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