Man jailed for refusing to give police password to personal computer files - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15045035
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/ ... 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 that in the U.S. Constitution there was a Fifth Amendment that says "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:




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.
#15045039
If you have a safe that they think might be evidence in, you have to open it. This is no different.

By refusing to do so, he makes it seem as though there is incriminating evidence on the computer, so if it went to court, most people would believe he was hiding something, and so would likely be charged and convicted.

The 5th Amendment would not protect you from this, in the same way if the evidence was in the trunk of a car, you couldn't refuse to open it.

The UK is significantly different from Australia, Canada, and the USA. Pretending it might "come here", is a bit of fear-mongering.
#15045068
Godstud wrote:The 5th Amendment would not protect you from this, in the same way if the evidence was in the trunk of a car, you couldn't refuse to open it.

That's an utterly absurd caparison. Our personal devices have far, far more intimate knowledge of us than the contents of the boot of the car. The corporations and the governments have a terrifying level of knowledge over us. A terrifying level of knowledge over us leads to a a terrifying level of power over us. They've got CCTV, they can monitor our every movement through our phones and other tracking devices. They can follow us through our ISPs and social media profiles. The corporations and the governments have a level of a surveillance undreamt-of in human history and you say these people should be given even more power.

Admin Edit: Rule 3 Violation Liberals open our borders to let Muslims flood in. But they would have us believe they case oh so deeply about paedophilia and terrorism that they must access to everything. Paedophiles are not some sort of new phenomenon. The government and their corporate friends have unparalleled technology and resources to track them down. What they have already is good enough.
#15045099
With respect Godstud, the trunk analogy is not complete. While there are places where one can be compelled to open the trunk (you are correct in this case because customs laws would apply) in almost all other instances the police would have to go to a judge, reasonable grounds, and get a warrant.

If the police obtained an encrypted hard drive and "broke" the encryption without a warrant or permission, any evidence they found would be excluded as evidence from any prosecution for what they found or evidence in another prosecution.

The "secure in their papers" applies here.

You can see in the OP the problem with allowing a search. It strongly appears that the police or customs were just on a fishing expedition.

If I had my way I would not allow the police or customs to open electronic files (or paper ones for that matter) without a warrant.
#15045103
Drlee wrote:With respect Godstud, the trunk analogy is not complete. While there are places where one can be compelled to open the trunk (you are correct in this case because customs laws would apply) in almost all other instances the police would have to go to a judge, reasonable grounds, and get a warrant.

If the police obtained an encrypted hard drive and "broke" the encryption without a warrant or permission, any evidence they found would be excluded as evidence from any prosecution for what they found or evidence in another prosecution.

The "secure in their papers" applies here.

You can see in the OP the problem with allowing a search. It strongly appears that the police or customs were just on a fishing expedition.

If I had my way I would not allow the police or customs to open electronic files (or paper ones for that matter) without a warrant.

I don't believe a search warrant is required for police to search the trunk of a car. They just need probable cause. If they pull you over, and smell (or say the smell) weed, they have probable cause to search the vehicle. That's at least my understanding.
#15045116
The main problem this thread is trying to focus on is not police breaking into the laptop and trying to hack through encryption, but the suspect being punished specifically for refusing to tell them the password to enable them to see what was on the laptop.

That's pretty much requiring the person to incriminate themselves (if indeed there was evidence of some crime they had personally committed), and is a violation of the Fifth Amendment (or at least should be seen that way).
There are good reasons for the legal protections laid out in the Fifth Amendment.

It's also requiring the person to be an active participant in giving up their own privacy. (Really more Fourth Amendment issues)
Basically government demanding people give up more personal information, going far beyond just government collecting it themselves.

Imagine I'm a police officer and I interrogate you and have you arrested for not telling me everywhere you've been over the past week.
#15045121
Godstud wrote:If you have a safe that they think might be evidence in, you have to open it. This is no different.

What if they have no specific reason to suspect there might be evidence in it?

If you commit one little crime, does that entitle them to go to your home and open your safe?

Suppose for example police find a tiny little baggy of drugs in the trunk of a parked car that is registered to you, that's been parked in a public parking garage for 2 weeks while you were away on holiday to another country. Should that give the police the right to go to your home, ransack through everything and open your safe?
#15045122
You must comply with police. If it is a criminal investigation the police can do what they like and as far as I'm concerned they have every right to do so.

Basically, if you have nothing to hide then what is the problem?
#15045323
Puffer Fish wrote:You can't seriously be asking that question and know anything about civil liberties.


It's sad to say but maybe someone really needs to start a new thread to explain that question to people like you.


The problem is, what if that man had some type of information on his device that could help lead to breaking up some criminal operation or saving the lives of people? It can even include saving the lives of children.

I think getting that type of information is more important than his privacy.

Or are you suggesting that his privacy is more important than the safety of other citizens including minors?
#15045331
Political Interest wrote:You must comply with police. If it is a criminal investigation the police can do what they like and as far as I'm concerned they have every right to do so.

Basically, if you have nothing to hide then what is the problem?


Well, the ,'if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear' argument is not the 'problem', it's that, 'my business is my business,not yours(the state's)'.

I'm pretty sure that most Americans think that the Russian or Chinese people are aware that the state knows more about themselves than they do, the truth is, America & the U.K perpetuate that myth in order to cover their blanket surveillance policies over the citizens of their respective countries.

It doesn't sit comfortable with countries that fought two world wars in order to protect our freedoms, only for the state's to take extreme liberty with our freedom by prying into every citizens affairs.

It's been said that we must sacrifice a bit of freedom, in order to gain a bit of security, tell that one to those who died in those two wars.

In the U.K, every electronic financial transaction of everyone is freely available to the state, as is internet search data, ISP logs form customers routers, utility company bills, bank records, local government records of citizens, telephone conversation- log files, 'energy' meter data, social security, taxation,medical health data, driving licence, passport data,mobile phone records,dash cams,CCTV data, every type of metadata you can dream of is available to the state, all at the click of a keyboard key.

Now, do you not see that Russia & China have nothing on the West's surveillance of their citizens?
#15045347
Pants-of-dog wrote:Why did the police want to look in his files to begin with?


'Curiosity, is what kiilled the cat', that's all it is, no supporting suspicion or anything concrete to justify it.

As Puffer Fish states, "Unless you tell us we're never gonna know... What is anybody gonna think?"

Therein lies the curiosity, anybody can think what they like,like Schrodener's cat in the box, you think there is something(a cat)in the box, until opening always reveals ,(would you believe it)no cat.

In the U.K, a person is presumed innocent,until proven guilty,a person is also legally allowed to walk the Queen's highway doing his\her lawful business unimpeded by the state or it's servants, subject only to circumstances that require it,such as safety etc, when requested, or ordered to by a police officer.

The police here are fully accountable,there are regulations for holding a person in custody,called PACE, there are rights to uphold & are read to anyone arrested.

Any such person charged has to be brought before a magistrate in a minimal amount of time,all such rights are included in the 1689 constitution & our legal system is largely copied by many countries, including America.

The policing practice in America however, leaves much to be desired by all accounts,perhaps because of the 'right' to bear arms(yet does not include using them).
#15045378
Godstud wrote:If you have a safe that they think might be evidence in, you have to open it. This is no different.

By refusing to do so, he makes it seem as though there is incriminating evidence on the computer, so if it went to court, most people would believe he was hiding something, and so would likely be charged and convicted.


If a section 49 legal notice under RIPA Part III is anything like a search warrant (I don't know if it is or if it carries the same weight), then the individual can probably be compelled to turn them over or, in this guy's case, be jailed.

Now, in this particular case, it seems like the police are on a fishing expedition. They can't say whether or not they're looking for child porn or bomb making instructions. They don't seem to actually have a crime, so they just want to look to see if they can find evidence of one. That's insane. The police should have to produce reasonable cause.

All that said, refusing to give someone access to your computer, in and of itself, is pretty meaningless, and it sure as Hell doesn't suggest there's something incriminating on it. I'm a writer and a photographer, and I have a boat load of intellectual property on my computer that I simply don't want others having access to.

That's hardly nefarious...
#15045393
Political Interest wrote:I think getting that type of information is more important than his privacy.

Then you believe in a Police State.

The KGB-style policing in the Soviet Union didn't work out too well for the people, did it?

Do you think government is entitled to any information? Even when it involves no judge, no fair & impartial due process, not even any specific reason/justification for them to collect that information in the first place? And punishing people for not willingly handing over that information? (Which goes even one step beyond just the government taking it by force)
#15045394
I do not know how warrants work in the UK, so it is hard to judge this, right?

If we know some guy has been named as a ped and/or has frequented certain websites and the threshold for reasonable suspicion has been reached, a US Judge can issue a warrant, and the man has to comply with it...

I will give Puffer Fish the benefit of the doubt, though, because I seldom hear about the basic human right to speak freely and do as one wishes in the UK honored. It would not surprise me if there is no exaggeration here and this is just the draconian state abusing people.
#15045401
The editorial cited in the OP gives many reasons why the police wanted to search the files.

They were not simply stopping random people and telling them to open their computers. He was wanted for previous infractions and was crossing a border with suspicious packages.

Whether or not it was justified in this particular case is open to debate.

However, it is not entirely correct to describe this as an arbitrary and completely unwarranted search.
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