UK Man Jailed For Not Giving Police Thumbstick Password
from the did-they-try-p@ssw0rd? dept
The question of whether or not citizens should be compelled to give up their passwords to law enforcement is not going to go away. What with different agencies in different countries attempting to do more searches of technology at borders, on the mainland, and around the world, the law is eventually going to have to settle whether these kinds of searches and forced compliance are in good standing with the fourth and fifth amendments of our constitution or the governing laws of other nations.
Another such case is causing a renewal of the discussion in the UK, where Syed Hussain, admitted wannabe terrorist, was jailed in part for refusing to decrypt a thumbdrive.
He said he had forgotten the password until a fraud probe was launched. The judge jailed him for four more months.Now, let's be clear on a couple of things. The UK has their own flavor of our 5th amendment, commonly referred to as "the right to silence." However, thanks to a law passed in 2000, refusal to present decryption keys to LEOs is an exception to that right. So, jailing Hussain wouldn't appear to run afoul of that law, unless you actually believe that he temporarily forgot his password (he later provided it to investigators). Also, Hussain is also being jailed for some very serious reasons.
Sending Hussain back to prison, Old Bailey judge Richard Marks said the defendant's deliberate failure and refusal to comply with a police notice to provide the password was a very serious matter because it had potentially hampered investigations.
Hussain and three other men were jailed in 2012 after admitting discussing attacking the town's TA headquarters by placing a homemade bomb on to a remote controlled toy car.This is where things get really fun for those of us that advocate for citizen's rights as though they were dogma. If you believe that the right to avoid self-incrimination ought to be universal (as I do), and that being compelled to hand over passwords to law enforcement that might result in self-incrimination is a violation of that universal right (as I do), then you don't get to pick and choose when you advocate. Hussain, wannabe terrorist and all around scum of the Earth, deserves this right as much as a nun in a convent.
As for the exception to the law in the UK, it nullifies the right completely. You can't write a law that provides relief from assisting law enforcement for the citizenry...except when we really want you to. There's no point to that at all. You might as well take the right away completely. Or, better yet, actually follow its original spirit.