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. identicon
    RobShaver, 3 Dec 2009 @ 1:40pm

    If due process was observed ...

    If the police show up at your office with a legally obtained subpoena for your records, can you refuse to turn over the key to your filing cabinet? Well, maybe you don't have to tell them where the key is but they can look for it or cut the cabinet open.

    So you're saying an encryption key is protected speech, but a metal key isn't, right?

    However, I'm getting really tired of you playing the "schizophrenic" card, as if that makes some difference. Just because he's schizophrenic doesn't mean he's not a member of organize crime, now does it.

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