Short Bytes: The life of a former police sergeant Francis Rawls is in turmoil. He is living like a prisoner for the last 16 months without any criminal charges. The reason–he is accused of possessing child pornography on his devices including MacBook and encrypted hard drives. His condition will remain so until he complies with the court’s order and decrypts the hard drives.An ex-police sergeant Francis Rawls, from Philadephia, is living in the Philadephia Federal Detention Center. However, there are not legal charges on Rawls, except the fact he hasn’t decrypted his hard drives as directed by the court.
It is a known fact that the security enforcement bodies in the United States have been running a surveillance drive to catch people who indulge themselves in watching child pornography.
In 2015, the police detained an Apple Macbook and a couple of hard drives from Rawl’s home. They believe that the hard drives contain graphic content involving children. At that time the police were tracking an unknown user transferring child porn on Freenet – a peer-to-peer network. That unknown user eventually turned out the Rawls, then a sergeant.
It has been almost 16 months since Rawls has been facing, sort of, jail time. Rawls is yet to comply with court’s order dated (September 30, 2015) to give the police officials access to his hard drives. He might have to spend his future in the detention center if doesn’t do so. The supplement order from the court order says Rawls will be held confined till he complies with the court order.
According to an appeal filed last year, forensic experts were able to gain access to Rawls Macbook Pro, protected by the FileVault encryption, after they found a screenshot of the security key. The experts found Rawls was using virtual machines. But the encrypted hard drives remain an unconquered territory.
The appeal also says the Freenet program was running on his computer, and he “admitted that he may have received child pornography through his email account, but he claimed to have deleted it immediately.”
Further in the talks is the Fifth Amendment – it a privilege granted to the accused that he can’t be compelled testify against himself. The government says Rawls isn’t being forced to reveal personal information. The only thing he has to do is unlock the hard drive, without telling the passcodes to the police officials or providing any testimony.
If you have something to add, drop your thoughts and comments.