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Digital Privacy and the Fifth Amendment

February 3, 2012


The Internet has vastly changed society. It’s one of those things that we can’t imagine living without, and we can’t imagine how we got by without the Internet just a few decades ago. However, something that changes society as drastically as the Internet has also alters legal boundaries, laws, and interpretations. The 5th Amendment, which protects American citizens’ right to due process and against self-incrimination, among other things, is no exception.

A federal judge in Colorado recently ruled that your computer is not granted those protections under the 5th Amendment. Even encrypted data that’s stored on your computer or an external hard drive would be subject to investigation, and giving up that information is equivalent to complying with a search warrant. The question of the 5th Amendment, privacy, and the law has always been a muddy one. How much digital privacy do people actually have? Is handing over our digital information, such as decrypting data or giving up a password, a form of self-incrimination? Can data encryption protect us in any way, whether or not we’ve done anything wrong? Much like what I’ve suggested with the SOPA and websites example, sometimes the best thing to do is to move outside the U.S. legal jurisdiction, which is possible with an offshore VPN like vpn4all.com or ocshield.com.

A VPN, or virtual private network, encrypts all of your online activities and personal data, while tunneling it on a secure, offshore server. A VPN is a great solution for those who travel internationally often, but it’s also a great alternative for those who want to ensure their digital privacy. This means that you can store information and files on the cloud, with programs like DropBox and Box.net, while access and transmission of that data would all be encrypted and tunneled offshore. No more needing to store confidential info on your hard drive or an external hard drive. Unfortunately, digital privacy is something a citizen must opt into, instead of it being a guaranteed provision. Opt in once and for all with a VPN.

You don’t have to be suspected of doing something wrong or illegal to want digital privacy and to keep your data from prying eyes. Encryption is only half the story, and the recent ruling mentioned earlier means that encrypted data doesn’t fall under 5th Amendment rights. Keep your data, and yourself, protected with a VPN.

Categories: internet, Privacy Tags: ,
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