UK Man Jailed For Refusing To Decrypt His Files

from the right-against-self-incrimination dept

Two years ago, a US judge ruled that a guy with an encrypted hard drive did not have to hand over his encryption key to the police, as it would be a violation of the 5th Amendment (the right not to self-incriminate). The argument there is that the encryption key is a form of "speech." This is quite a reasonable ruling -- but it appears that over in the UK they view encryption keys quite differently. Last year, we wrote about a UK court ruling interpreting the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) to mean that people could be required to hand over encryption keys, since encryption keys were not "speech" but an object that could be demanded. Unfortunately, this has now resulted in a schizophrenic man being jailed for refusing to decrypt his files. As many are noting, this seems to be an abuse of law enforcement, as the purpose of the RIPA law was supposed to be about stopping organized crime and terrorism, not dumping the mentally ill in prison.

Filed Under: crime, decryption, uk


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  1. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 2 Dec 2009 @ 9:23am

    Re: What the big deal

    > This is no different than the police asking you to open you
    > safe in your house

    If the police arrive at your home with a warrant and tell you to open your safe, and inside they find a piece of paper with the following text written on it:

    EMUFPHZLRFAXYUSDJKZLDKRNSHGNFIVJ
    YQTQUXQBQVYUVLLTREVJYQTMKYRDMFD
    VFPJUDEEHZWETZYVGWHKKQETGF QJNCE
    GGWHKK?DQMCPFQZDQMMIAGPFXHQRLG
    TIMVMZJANQLVKQEDAGDVFRPJUNGEUNA
    QZGZLECGYUXUEENJTBJLBQCRTBJD FHRR
    YIZETKZEMVDUFKSJHKFWHKUWQLSZFTI
    HHDDDUVH?DWKBFUFPWNTDFIYCUQZERE
    EVLDKFEZMOQQJLTTUGSYQPFEUNLA VIDX
    FLGGTEZ?FKZBSFDQVGOGIPUFXHHDRKF
    FHQNTGPUAECNUVPDJMQCLQUMUNEDFQ
    ELZZVRRGKFFVOEEXBDMVPNFQXEZLG RE
    DNQFMPNZGLFLPMRJQYALMGNUVPDXVKP
    DQUMEBEDMHDAFMJGZNUPLGEWJLLAETG

    Can they force you to tell them what it means under threat of imprisonment?

    What if you can't?

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