By the time I get to Minnesota

A Minnesota appeals court has ruled that the presence of encryption software on a computer may be viewed as evidence of criminal intent.

Ari David Levie, who was convicted of taking illegal photographs of a nude 9-year-old girl, argued on appeal that the PGP encryption utility on his computer was irrelevant and should not have been admitted as evidence during his trial. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy and is sold by PGP Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif.

But the Minnesota appeals court ruled 3-0 that the trial judge was correct to let that information be used when handing down a guilty verdict.

“We find that evidence of appellant’s Internet use and the existence of an encryption program on his computer was at least somewhat relevant to the state’s case against him,” Judge R.A. Randall wrote in an opinion dated May 3.

How in the name of the netherest nether being can the EXISTENCE of an encryption program be relevant to someone’s guilt or innocence of ANYTHING. WinZip has some basic encryption; if everyone is automatically guilty based on possessing that then they might as well throw the entire PC-owning community into jail en masse.

The guy may well be scum, but the question of his guilt or innocence does not disperse the Orwellian shadows being cast here. And this is not the first time Minnesota has pulled this sort of thing. Not even close.