Judge Rejects Attempt To Force Lauri Love To Decrypt His Computers, Despite Never Charging Him With A Crime
from the finally,-a-good-ruling dept
Last year, the NCA actually returned most of Love's stuff, but held onto six items: three computers, two hard drives and an SD card. Love sought to get them back, using a civil legal action against the NCA. The NCA then, somewhat ridiculously, sought to use that civil action to again force Love to decrypt the devices it held, in particular asking that he decrypt some TrueCrypt files on the SD card and hard drives. Thankfully, the court has flatly rejected the NCA's demand, noting that it appeared to be a clear attempt to do an endrun around RIPA, which has a variety of protections.
After reading the papers and hearing from the parties, I am not granting the application because in order to obtain the information sought the correct procedure to be used, as the NCA did 2 ½ years ago, is under section 49 RIPA, with the inherent HRA safeguards incorporated therein. Case management rules are necessary to fulfil their objectives which include the early identification of the real issues in the case and, as per the new CPR relating to applications under the PPA, the applicant to explain his interest in the property. The NCA submits this “lends some support to its submission that Mr Love should in this case be required to provide the encryption key or password as only thus will the court be able to adjudicate fairly upon the complete contents of the devices” (paragraph 3 of supplementary skeleton argument dated 5th April 2016). I am not persuaded by this argument. The case management powers of the court are not to be used to circumvent specific legislation that has been passed in order to deal with the disclosure sought.The court does note that the issue is not completely closed. But it appears that while Love will not have to disclose his key, that may be used against him in trying to regain control over his stuff:
Finally, I would also add that this court has already directed Mr Love to give particulars of the contents of his files as part of the evidence as to ownership in a witness statement. The NCA accepts the case can be heard in July and they will invite the court to draw interferencesStill, on the whole, not forcing him to disclose under these conditions is nice to see.