Judge equates encrypted chats with private thoughts in attempted kidnapping case

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ST. LOUIS– A recent trial involving the three men accused of plotting the kidnapping of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had a judge making an interesting ruling regarding technology. He ruled encrypted chats are like private chats and said they could not be admitted into the trial.

The defendants were accused of using an encrypted chat system to make plans and discuss the plot against Gov. Whitmer.

Scott Schaffer, the Chief Information Security Officer with Blade Technologies, says in the past some like the FBI have said if you send a text, no matter if it is encrypted or not, it is discoverable. That means a copy of the chats can be provided and used against you in court.

Schaffer says the judge ruled that since the encrypted chats were not visible to the public they were like private thoughts. He says because the judge believed the messages weren’t in the public realm it wasn’t a normal chat message.

Schaffer says it’s concerning if judges will be making key decisions that echo into the future if they don’t understand how modern technology works.

The charges related to the messages were thrown out however the defendants were facing other charges.

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