Man jailed for refusing to give police password to personal computer files

Discussion in 'Civil Liberties' started by kazenatsu, Mar 18, 2019.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    A man in the U.K. was jailed for nine months for refusing to provide police investigators with the encryption password to the files on his personal laptop computer.

    The man was served a section 49 legal notice under RIPA Part III, which gives a suspect a time limit to supply encryption keys or make target data intelligible. Failure to comply is an offence under section 53 of the same Part of the Act and carries a sentence of up to two years imprisonment, and up to five years imprisonment in an investigation concerning national security.

    In his final police interview, CTC officers suggested JFL's refusal to decrypt the files or give them his keys would lead to suspicion he was a terrorist or paedophile. "There could be child pornography, there could be bomb-making recipes," said one detective. "Unless you tell us we're never gonna know... What is anybody gonna think?"

    JFL says he maintained his silence because of "the principle - as simple as that".
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/24/ripa_jfl?page=2


    So this is what it has come down to, government punishing people over information. Simply because he had unknown information stored and refused to hand it over to police. That 1967 TV series The Prisoner comes to mind.

    I wonder, how long before this comes to the U.S. ?


    There was another incident too. David Miranda, a journalist that was working with Glenn Greenwald with The Guardian. He had just gone to Berlin to meet the film-maker Laura Poitras, who was involved at the time in a documentary based on revelations from documents leaked by Edward Snowden. He was on his way back to his home country Brazil, but the return flight made a temporary stop in the U.K. When he landed in Heathrow airport, he was stopped under the Terrorism Act and forced to give up passwords. He had no right to remain silent.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2016/9/14/obamas_war_on_whistleblowers_forced_edward
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/30/david-miranda-documents-schedule-7


    Here's another thought that occurred to me:
    What if someone simply forgot their password? Would they still end up getting jailed? Maybe it was an old file, or an old laptop.

    Or what if someone was just simply in possession of an encrypted data file they did not have the password to? I've carelessly downloaded files all the time, and they just sit there in my computer until I finally clear them out many months later.

    Or this could even be used by corrupt police to frame someone. Simply put a small disc or flash drive containing encrypted files among the suspect's possessions. The suspect will not know the password so will be unable to comply with demands to open it. The actual information encrypted could be complete gibberish, but no will ever know that.

    This just seems like a terrible law that could end up getting misused.


    You know, I think there was a REASON for the Fifth Amendment "No person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself" after the American colonies had just broke away from Britain.

    My personal opinion, these are Stasi-like tactics that have no place in the law enforcement of a Free society.


    opening sequence from the British TV series The Prisoner:

     
  2. Capt Nice

    Capt Nice Well-Known Member

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    Is there a 5th Amendment in the UK?
     
  3. Jarlaxle

    Jarlaxle Well-Known Member

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    Need a second password...that will, when used, trigger a full wipe of all data. Whoops, must have entered it wrong.
     
  4. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    So if the police have reason to believe someone has evidence of criminality in their home and so turn up at the door with a search warrant, that suspect should be free to just turn them away? If the police suspect someone is driving a stolen car, should the driver be free to refuse to be stopped? If the security services suspect someone is carrying plans for a major terrorist attack, should that suspect be free to refuse to be arrested or searched and just left to go on their way? What if they’re suspected of carrying an actual bomb to the target? What if they’re carrying the trigger for a bomb on a password-protected phone?

    There is definitely a balance to be struck but the idea that it’s a simple, one-sided issue is a dangerous fantasy.
     
  5. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    We are talking about arresting and imprisoning people for the reason of refusing to hand over information, in which police have no idea what that information even is.

    And, might I add, in which the suspect never even appeared in front of a judge or was able to legally defend himself.
     
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  6. Xenamnes

    Xenamnes Well-Known Member

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    Such is what can be expected in the united kingdom, where there are neither human nor constitutional rights to serve as a protection against government overreach. The matter is truly as simple as that. The public wished for a surveillance society to make them feel safe, and now they are being forced to realize what it is like when what they demanded can be utilized against them.
     

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