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UK Computing Student Jailed After Failing To Hand Over Crypto Keys

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the guilty-until-proven-guilty dept.

Encryption 353

stephendavion sends news that Christopher Wilson, a 22-year-old computer science student, has been sent to jail for six months for refusing to hand over his computer encryption passwords. Wilson has been accused of "phoning in a fake warning of an impending cyber attack against Northumbria Police that was convincing enough for the force to temporarily suspend its site as a precaution once a small attack started." He's also accused of trolling on Facebook. Wilson only came to the attention of police in October 2012 after he allegedly emailed warnings about an online threat against one of the staff at Newcastle University. ... The threatening emails came from computer servers linked to Wilson. Police obtained a warrant on this basis and raided his home in Washington, where they seized various items of computer equipment. ... Investigators wanted to examine his encrypted computer but the passwords supplied by Wilson turned out to be incorrect. None of the 50 passwords he provided worked. Frustration with his lack of co-operation prompted police to obtained a order from a judge compelling him to turn over the correct passphrase last year. A judge ordered him to turn over these passwords on the grounds of national security but Wilson still failed to comply, earning him six months behind bars.

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But it wasn't for "national security" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418183)

Everything about this is a fiasco.

Seems appropriate (-1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 5 months ago | (#47418193)

Encryption is not a crime. Hiding evidence of your crimes using encryption probably is. Being so stupid that you have to rely on that encryption to keep your ass out of jail definitely should be.

Re:Seems appropriate (3, Insightful)

GuyverDH (232921) | about 5 months ago | (#47418251)

Data stored digitally on your computer is the equivalent of your own memory.

Encrypting it keeps others out of it.

5th amendment protects against self-incrimination, period.

This trumped up charge needs to be dropped.
The judge needs to be de-benched and sent to prison for being a constitutional terrorist.
The prisoner should sue the City, the district attorney's office and the judge for everything they have for wrongful imprisonment, falsifying charges, and basic ass-hattery.

Re:Seems appropriate (5, Informative)

I'm just joshin (633449) | about 5 months ago | (#47418279)

There is no "5th Amendment" in the UK.

Re:Seems appropriate (4, Insightful)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 5 months ago | (#47418367)

That is the issue on which this case hinges: there is no absolute guarantee against self-incrimination in the UK. You *can* be compelled to reveal your secret encryption keys that exist only in your mind.

Seems the founders of computing as we know it have lost their way.

Re:Seems appropriate (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#47418525)

That's why you need two factor authentication. A password and a keyfile stored on floppy disk. Ideally an old floppy disk with multiple read errors. If you are arrested you can say that the police must have damaged the disk.

Alternatively TrueCrypt's plausible deniability works well.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418555)

Encryption keys are not incriminitory. They may provide access to information that is, but they themselves are not. Similarly, a court can require someone to turn over physical keys to a safe that contains incriminatory documents. Whether it should be allowed is debateable, but the same standard should apply to physical and digital keys.

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418605)

Encryption keys are not incriminitory. They may provide access to information that is, but they themselves are not.

What a bunch of newspeak bullshit. This reminds me of the 'justification' for free speech zones in the US: "You're still allowed to speak, but you have to do it over there." Nope. The entire universe is a "free speech zone." Likewise, it's absolutely ridiculous to force someone to hand over information that might lead to them providing evidence against themselves and say that they didn't incriminate themselves.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 5 months ago | (#47418731)

Additionally, if keys are not incriminatory, why is he in jail for not providing them?

Re:Seems appropriate (2)

grahammm (9083) | about 5 months ago | (#47419033)

Yes, you turn over they keys to the safe and inside they find sheets of paper with what appears to be random letters and numbers written on them. Can the court compel you to disclose the "meaning" of what is written on those documents?

Re:Seems appropriate (4, Insightful)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about 5 months ago | (#47418603)

As bad as the US is getting, I sure AM glad I don't live in the UK with THIS crap going on...

Re:Seems appropriate (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 5 months ago | (#47418615)

http://xkcd.com/538/ [xkcd.com]

Brings new meaning to "brute force" hacking. Or is that whacking?

Re:Seems appropriate (3, Informative)

queazocotal (915608) | about 5 months ago | (#47419087)

And in the US, you can be similarly compelled in some circumstances.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] - interesting presentation by the EFF on forced disclosure laws.

The 5th amendment does _NOT_ always apply.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 5 months ago | (#47418621)

Which is one of the reasons the founding fathers started a new country. With the right to due process. And blackjack. And hookers.

In fact, forget the blackjack and hookers. Ahh, screw the whole thing.

Re:Seems appropriate (2)

edbob (960004) | about 5 months ago | (#47418323)

It is UK, so there is no 5th amendment, but I believe that they have something similar.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 months ago | (#47418333)

This is England. The Fifth Amendment doesn't apply. Period.

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418335)

Except this isn't a U.S. court. Its a U.K. court.

5th amendment doesn't apply.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

KamikazeSquid (3611985) | about 5 months ago | (#47418349)

The judge needs to be de-benched and sent to prison for being a constitutional terrorist.

Right, because that's not reactionary at all ...

Re:Seems appropriate (1, Funny)

fnj (64210) | about 5 months ago | (#47418569)

Reactionary? What are you, a shill for tyranny?

Re:Seems appropriate (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47418869)

Reactionary? What are you, a shill for tyranny?

An independent judiciary is a keystone of a free society. So, yes, jailing judges for their rulings is quite reactionary.

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

fnj (64210) | about 5 months ago | (#47418927)

So what would you do with tyrant judges like this one? Let them do anything they want? Would you prosecute the judge if he murdered someone? Locked someone up for life for contempt because he doesn't like the cut of his jib or got up on the wrong side of the bed?

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419011)

We don't have a constitution.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 5 months ago | (#47418363)

The prisoner should sue the City, the district attorney's office and the judge for everything they have for wrongful imprisonment, falsifying charges, and basic ass-hattery.

They have nothing. You can only take money from your community.

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418501)

You can only take money from your community.

Good! That's the community's punishment for voting in these asshats!

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 5 months ago | (#47418833)

I am just stating that taking money from a police force, a city, a county, state or the feds does nothing to stop the behavior. These people have unlimited funds.

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418577)

Well, the community keeps demanding tougher and tougher cops and laws, or at the very least keeps voting in people who promise them (and vote out people who don't). Fining the community for being too tough on crime (to the point where it violates human rights) is an appropriate response. (If anything, it's too lenient.)

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418373)

The 5th Amendment is a US thing. This happened in the UK. They may have something comparable but it won't be identical.

Re:Seems appropriate (4, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#47418409)

People have argued the right to not incriminate themselves right up to the European courts, but it was rejected. When you are arrested in the UK you are told that if you fail to mention when questioned anything you later rely on in court it may harm your defence, so there is no right to silence either.

What isn't clear from the story is if this guy just forgot his password or if he refused to hand it over. The law says that the police must prove you knew the password, e.g. by showing that you used it very recently.

Either way, it's a fucked up law that needs to be repealed.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 5 months ago | (#47418795)

I remember the shock in the US whem the UK decided they could hold your silence against you. You were he heroes, the original English system on which much of the US is based, how sad you are straying.

Re:Seems appropriate (2)

houghi (78078) | about 5 months ago | (#47418421)

Sounds like you woke up from a coma and think it still is the 20th century.
If that is the case : Times have changed, my friend. Times have changed and not into the direction of flying cars.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

ugen (93902) | about 5 months ago | (#47418427)

This is UK, queen and all. I don't think 5th amendment applies there.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418431)

Data stored digitally on your computer is the equivalent of your own memory.

Encrypting it keeps others out of it.

I suggest a better analogy is that it's the equivalent of a locked file cabinet of your papers. What's the law on locked cabinets?

More specifically, what's THE LAW IN THE UK?
(Hint - 5th amendment doesn't apply in the UK, so I'll kindly not comment on the rest of your post.)

SB

5th amendment protects against self-incrimination, period.

This trumped up charge needs to be dropped.
The judge needs to be de-benched and sent to prison for being a constitutional terrorist.
The prisoner should sue the City, the district attorney's office and the judge for everything they have for wrongful imprisonment, falsifying charges, and basic ass-hattery.

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418467)

He is in the UK. The 5th Amendment to the US Constitution does not apply.

Re:Seems appropriate (3, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 5 months ago | (#47418471)

The 5th amendment has certain loopholes.

One of them is it only applies in the United States, not in the United Kingdom. duh.

Another is that if you agree to give up your right (i.e. offer a password), then you can be punished for lying about it (i.e. offering a false password).

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418507)

Digital files are no more equivalent to your own memory than paper files.

Re:Seems appropriate (3, Insightful)

Squiddie (1942230) | about 5 months ago | (#47418709)

But they would be equivalent to paper files written in a code only you know how to decipher. It isn't your responsibility to interpret your own files for the police.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418883)

...and here we have the real analogy. Authorities can't force you to interpret evidence for them. The analogies with the safes and lock boxes is way off.

Re:Seems appropriate (5, Insightful)

Aighearach (97333) | about 5 months ago | (#47418547)

Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Leaving aside that this is UK news and the UK doesn't have the 5th Amendment, protection from being forced to testify against yourself is not based on this ideology you assume it is where your memory would be protected. You misunderstand the entire reason for the right. The reason for the right is because of the long history of forced confessions. History teaches that when the police interrogate them long enough and hard enough they can get them to "confess" to almost anything; even heinous crimes carrying the death penalty. This can be achieved without traditional torture, with just hard questioning and lack of sleep. Because of the physical power the police hold over a person who has been arrested, this is a pervasive problem in places without these protections, including historical England.

But the 5th Amendment doesn't protect physical facts, and it doesn't protect your memory; it protects you from testifying about your memory. If your memory could be read by doctors using a harmless mind-reading machine, that would be allowed, because it would be physical evidence, not testimony that might have been compelled.

Another problem with compelled testimony is where they attempt to accuse a person of lying in their claim of innocence, even before it is established that they are guilty. Prosecutors are very good at that; finding some innocent detail you remember wrong, or perceived differently than witnesses, and then using that to "prove" you're lying. And your denial contains lies, that is almost the same as a confession in the hands of a skilled prosecutor.

Another example of what can be compelled is the location of a key to safe, or the combination to a safe; assuming the police have a warrant, no physical evidence is protected by the 5th Amendment, including things like the location of a key. The safe is physical evidence, not testimony. And the location of the key is an objective physical fact that is not prone to the type of abuse that a compelled confession is.

And you would send a judge to freakin' prison over your lack of understanding of the very rights you claim to value, yet somehow know nothing about. You even then somehow manage to work in a false accusation of terrorism. There is nothing basic about your ass-hattery; you're a first class champion ass-hat!

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Dan Doan-Draper (2996913) | about 5 months ago | (#47418627)

The US constitution not applying to other countries aside; a locked journal is also equivalent of your own memory, but authorities would certainly break into said journal.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

CharlieG (34950) | about 5 months ago | (#47418801)

And since when does the US 5th Amendment apply to anything in Northumbria?

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418847)

This didn't happen in Portland, OR but in Her Majesty's People's Republic, yet
another shithole of a country where people don't have rights.

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418299)

The UK has the RIPA act. It effectively gives life in prison for withholding a password. It is used similar to the following:

Judge: "What is the password?"
Defendant: "Sorry, no go."
Judge: "That will be another three years. What is the password again?"

Six months in the cooler is light compared to how the law is written, which can put someone in for life.

Re:Seems appropriate (2, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 5 months ago | (#47418339)

Real question...what happens if somebody legitimately forgets their password? If they're paranoid (or realistic) enough to use AES to begin with, they're likely going to have a good strong password. That's a lot of entropy for a human to remember for a number of years, especially if they don't decrypt it very often.

Re:Seems appropriate (2)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418445)

Forgetting is not a legitimate defence, much like torturers say, you would say that wouldn't you?

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 5 months ago | (#47418571)

Forgetting is not a legitimate defence, much like torturers say, you would say that wouldn't you?

So basically marriage is a good preparation for criminal defense.

Re:Seems appropriate (2)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418715)

Nah effectively you have to prove conclusively that you have forgotten what the keys were, else they consider it to be a convenient lapse of memory and therefore you are hiding something. Since the UK police used to consider silence as an indicator of being guilty....

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 5 months ago | (#47418307)

The problem that I see on the issue is that once you hand your computer to the police, it's easy, too easy for them to plant evidence.

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418425)

That's why you create two copies: you hand one over to them with password. Second copy, you keep sealed with dual keys, like in a bank locker. You change password on the original and continue your business.

Re:Seems appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418443)

The problem that I see on the issue is that once you hand your computer to the police, it's easy, too easy for them to plant evidence.

No it's not...from a forensics standpoint it's quite difficult to plant evidence on a computer and not have timestamps completely out of sync with the rest of the system.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418737)

Except a few years ago a case collapsed because it was unknown if the time stamps were reliable or not. IIRC (which I might not) found 'bad' images on a persons HDD, except they weren't sure if it was them who put them there or not.

Re:Seems appropriate (4, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about 5 months ago | (#47418845)

[boot up in single user mode so syslog and ntpd are not running]
# date 0417212012
# su - victim
$
[pigs copy incriminating files at will using cp without -p]
[could change the date numerous times for different files]

Yeah, that's REAL hard. They just planted files with an mtime, ctime, and atime of 2012.

How can timestamps be "out of sync with the rest of the system"? Every file in the system has different timestamps as it is.

Re:Seems appropriate (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about 5 months ago | (#47418593)

That is a totally different issue, because if they plant evidence on your computer, they don't need encryption for that. And if they're going to "go there" they can just plant some drugs on you if for some reason they don't have the technical skill to get it onto your computer, or if you have encryption.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418957)

Hiding evidence of your crimes using encryption probably is.

I hold in my hand a paper notebook. Inside, I have written what looks like gibberish, but which is actually a foreign language.

It is not my job to teach you that foreign language, and that fact does not change just because the notebook is made out of metal discs and the pen used was a magnet.

Terror (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#47418197)

"He's also accused of trolling on Facebook."

If that doesn't spell out terrorist, I don't know what does.

Re:Terror (4, Funny)

XScorpion2 (985642) | about 5 months ago | (#47418463)

"He's also accused of trolling on Facebook."

If that doesn't spell out terrorist, I don't know what does.

I don't know about that. I could only spell "terois" with those letters.

Re:Terror (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 5 months ago | (#47418659)

Who doesn't troll on Facebook? The entire existence of Facebook serves as an outlet for trolling. It's therapeutic.

Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418213)

* draws a a giant black X over England *

Would have been nice to see Stonehenge, the castles, some Shakespeare... Ho, hum.

Lets jail some more youths on these cray charges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418217)

Maybe if enough of our younger generation see how unjust these laws are, they will vote and get the crooks out of office.

Re:Lets jail some more youths on these cray charge (1)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418305)

They won't, young people are mostly dis-enfranchised and don't vote. I'm not exactly young and I don't vote because it changes nothing (my vote under the system here is worth about 0.013 of a vote).

Re:Lets jail some more youths on these cray charge (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 5 months ago | (#47418865)

Eventually the disenfranchised (it's not hyphenated, btw) youth will be the older generation(s) and the ones who go all crazy voting these days will not be around anymore.

Plot Twist... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418221)

The passwords worked, they were just case sensitive and the police didn't realize they had Caps Lock on.

What if he forgot it? (2)

gnu-sucks (561404) | about 5 months ago | (#47418231)

I'm not saying this is likely, but what if he forgot the passphrase? This was two years ago after all.

Who's to say if he has actually forgotten it or just doesn't want to supply it?

(Haven't read the article of course, so maybe they covered this...)

Re:What if he forgot it? (5, Informative)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418287)

Under similar UK laws, forgetting is a crime. For example in the UK if you get caught speeding by a speed camera, you have 30 days to tell the police who it was who was driving. Except there is no statute of limitations and speeding tickets can come through your door months after the event, though there is the frequently cited 2 week rule (Scotland has a statute of limitations). So if you genuinely forget then the registered keeper of the vehicle is usually given double the punishment of the speeding offence and sometimes the penalty for the speeding offence ontop. So a 3 points £100 fine becomes 9 points + £300 fine £90 tax (yes there is a tax on crime in the UK)

Re:What if he forgot it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418711)

yes there is a tax on crime in the UK

Well shit! If everyone in the UK committed a crime, the entire government would be rich. You would think they would be encouraging the behavi..oh wait...

Re:What if he forgot it? (1)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418797)

Yup it is called the victim surcharge its something like 15-20% tax on any penalties and fines (note that penalties aren't actually legal as they can only be imposed by a court but the powers that be ignore this completely). So you get a penalty of £100 for say a parking ticket is becomes £120, even if there are no victims.

Re:What if he forgot it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418469)

Basically he pissed them off.

He was already a suspect in another case (which got dropped) so when this follow up case happened and he refused/failed to cooperate (due to forgetting his passwords?), he got hit with an automatic (basically) contempt of court.

Re:What if he forgot it? (2)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418599)

Yup, there was a male stripper who had an act whereby he dressed as a police officer for his strip routine. Look up "Stuart Kennedy" he's been arrested 22 times (no double jeopardy law in the UK) and they keep trying to pin him with more and more outlandish crimes.

Re:What if he forgot it? (3, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 months ago | (#47418613)

It doesn't matter. In the UK, you face jail time for not turning over passwords... even if you can prove you never had them. If the cops think that a photo has steganographically hidden data, you must produce the decryption key, or face jail time. If some anonymous so and so sends you a floppy disk, or USB stick, you must produce the decryption keys to any files on it.

Re:What if he forgot it? (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 5 months ago | (#47418661)

The presumption is that where you valued the information enough to lock it in a safe and not write down the password, that you have a good enough memory that you anticipated being able to remember it. Where you didn't presume to remember it, you would write it down somewhere, or provide for some other means to access it.

It isn't foolproof, you could eventually forget; but you could also "remember" after a few weeks in the can, too. Outside of brain damage or illness, you don't "forget" very much; even things that are hard to recall will probably pop back into your head once in awhile.

The court assumes you know your own ability to remember and that both protecting and accessing your secrets is important to you. If you have some sort of mental health problem, then that presumption isn't valid and you'll have basic protections against these inferences.

Re:What if he forgot it? (2)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418765)

I am notoriously bad at remembering passwords, my email accounts are filled with reset password reminders. I do remember my ebay one and my email account ones but websites that force me to make an account to buy stuff? something random gets typed in copied and pasted in the retype password box.

Re:What if he forgot it? (1)

Maltheus (248271) | about 5 months ago | (#47418733)

That would be my first assumption. Or what if you were using a key file, that you no longer have? I never really used PGP much, but I must have set it up a dozen times, with a different random password each time. And I certainly couldn't tell you what those passwords are now. It's barbaric to convict someone on this basis.

Re:What if he forgot it? (3, Interesting)

freeze128 (544774) | about 5 months ago | (#47418805)

Valeris: "I do not remember."

Spock: "A lie?"

Valeris: "A choice."

trolling on Facebook (2)

kharchenko (303729) | about 5 months ago | (#47418233)

I wish the penalties for trolling legislation would be at least half as severe ...

Stay away from the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418271)

I'll never visit that police state. I recommend no one else does. I may be spied on in the US, but at least I'm not charged with the crime of "trolling facebook".

God damn, you eurotrash need to stop this shit before it spreads to the US.

Re:Stay away from the UK (2)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418379)

Its not trolling facebook, it is the scatter gun effect. The police will ALWAYS character assassinate anybody whom they are dealing with. For example when there was an extra judicial execution of a Brazilian bloke in London about 10 years back. The PR system of police immediately made up rumours that he was a rapist (he wasn't) , and that he was an illegal immigrant (he wasn't). Also in the UK there are laws against causing people distress online, and therefore trolling can fall under this, essentially there were some children who were bullied online (apparently there is no off switch) topped themselves and their parents campaigned for such a law. Also inciting hate and disorder, so for instance if one were to say kill all [insert ethnic group/religion/sect/government minister] you'll be happily sent to prison for at least a year.

Re:Stay away from the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418449)

Yep. And that's a fucked up law. A sure sign of a true police state where they convict people for thought crimes.

Re:Stay away from the UK (1)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418537)

Thought crime has LONG existed in the UK, the extreme porn law and child protection laws are an example of this. Having a 'bad' picture for instance in your possession is illegal, before anybody jumps to conclusions 'a bad picture' can be plenty of things, ball gags for instance in UK porn are considered illegal as they cause the party under restraint from such a device to be unable to withdraw consent. Extremely well endowed men are also illegal as they can cause damage to their partner. (a man once went to court for having a cartoon of tony the tiger from the breakfast cereal shagging a woman). So if I put that 'bad' picture in your hand and you go home and pleasure yourself with a picture in your posession. Even though there is no direct contact between you and the bad picture, and you were not involved in making that picture or distributing it, merely having thoughts about it is a crime. I wish I were kidding

Re:Stay away from the UK (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 5 months ago | (#47418907)

Why do you think the Constitution of the United Stated of America's first amendment is... the first amendment?

Because this behavior from the UK is hardly new...

Re:Stay away from the UK (4, Insightful)

Maltheus (248271) | about 5 months ago | (#47418807)

Yeah, I always wanted to do a UK trip, but their crazy laws have always kept me away. Not even because I'm worried that I'll get caught up in them, so much as I look down on them as a people for institutiting them in the first place.

And no, the irony isn't lost on me that many do not want to visit America for the same reasons. I probably wouldn't either, if I weren't a native.

National security (2)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 5 months ago | (#47418273)

So now threatening to deface a police website is a matter of national security. Got it.

Re:National security (4, Informative)

Minwee (522556) | about 5 months ago | (#47418341)

This is England. Being taller than a police officer [theregister.co.uk] is a crime there.

Re:National security (1)

Justpin (2974855) | about 5 months ago | (#47418429)

Not really, the problem is MPs, police government have used the 911 effect, whereby horrible actions of cops will be excused by saying ' in this post 911 climate we have to be vigilant and more careful' The British regime and tentacles of power rather than using that mouthful will merely say 'National security' police for instance had S45 which allowed them to strip search you 'for national security' s45 has NO oversight and NO recourse, i.e. you were not allowed to complain. So they could strip search you under S45, let you go without a pink slip (which details the stop like a receipt) then stop you again under S45, and repeatedly stop you under S45 (it has happened a few times to a few people). The police used this because it saved them paper work of having to write a receipt, if you ever spoke back to a cop S45 would come out. S45 was repealed and a WORSE law was put in place whereby you are put on a penalty system, so if a cop thinks you've done something bad or illegal, without evidence can put you on a list.. Say for example your motorbike exhaust sounds illegal (which it might not be) cop thinks its illegal? you go on the list, cop sees you again he can impound and destroy your motorbike and there isn't much you can do about it.

He gave them 50 passwords. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418311)

What if he did give them the right one, and they just typed it in wrong?

What if the government is lying? They can now jail you without any proof.

Involuntary inability to comply (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418347)

I do not remember the password.

Proof of contempt
Although the court’s power to punish through contempt is broad, contempt is meant to be exercised rarely and is presumed not to exist.
A person may not, for example, be jailed for failing to turn over property not in his possession. But for this exception to apply, the inability to comply must be involuntary. If a person puts himself in a position where he is unable to comply with the order, then he may still be held in contempt.

If I do not remember the password, it is no longer in my possession.

Re:Involuntary inability to comply (1)

ledow (319597) | about 5 months ago | (#47418669)

And then it comes down to "beyond reasonable doubt".

He provided 50 "passwords" off the top of his head. None worked. The chances that he "forgot" just the one for the court-ordered file that the court believe may have evidence - enought to generate a court order - but none others? Quite slim.

There's forgetfulness. There's reasonable doubt. There's being a dick in front of a court.

What you have to remember is that the law is written in stone, but it's interpreted by humans.

Re:Involuntary inability to comply (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419045)

I would argue that the burden would be on the court to provide evidence that he did in fact know the password AFTER the order to compel was given. His attempts to provide passwords could also be argued that they were an attempt to co-operate given his incomplete possession of the password.

Example: I was ordered to give the couch to them. But I only gave them half of the couch because the other half previously caught fire and burned.

Absent evidence to the contrary that he knew the password after the order to compel, I am not sure how this could stand up to scrutiny. Definitely would not fly in the US.

Compelled NatSec evidence IN-ADMISSIBLE ? (1)

redelm (54142) | about 5 months ago | (#47418375)

Ok, this is the UK and everything is admissible. So he's done unless there some EU Right (unlikely).

But in the US -- mass lawless (warrentless) behaviour of the NSA & other govt agencies is such that any evidence from them should be considered "fruit of the poisoned vine". The agents willfully behave this way, apparently believing that prevention is more important the punishment (or that they can parallel (perjury) construct a conviction.

They want it this way, so why not formalize it?

ANYwhere in the world (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 5 months ago | (#47418459)

"He even suggested sending nasty messages on a condolence page set up for two female police officers shot dead in Manchester" this here will get you fucked up by the law. All the other stuff is just throwing whatever might stick at him in my opinion.

Is a temporal self-destruct key possible? (1)

yayoubetcha (893774) | about 5 months ago | (#47418551)

Like the series "Lost" where somebody had to push a button now and then to prevent a catastrophe, is there a crypto-equivalent?

Let's say I have the pass-phrase '"fat-guy-from-lost". But if I don't enter it every 42 hours, the data will be permanently scrambled (or /dev/zero'd); thus my valid key would no longer work?

Does this tech exist?

Re:Is a temporal self-destruct key possible? (2)

Khashishi (775369) | about 5 months ago | (#47418653)

It's called a dead man's switch. You can set up something to delete your data if you don't log in every so often.

Re:Is a temporal self-destruct key possible? (1)

Maltheus (248271) | about 5 months ago | (#47418831)

I believe cron job technology might be able to pull this off.

You don't refuse. You forget. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418595)

Take a page from the politicians' playbook.

So, double encrypt (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 5 months ago | (#47418635)

Seems to me if you want to stick to the strict letter of the law, just hand over your crypto key... so the police can decrypt your file... which is itself still encrypted with something else.

Sorry, you asked for Key A, that's what you got, now you want another one? Call a lawyer and start again!

Self Incrimination Irrelevant (0)

quarnap (155151) | about 5 months ago | (#47418675)

If the authorities have a proper search warrant, I don't see why he can't be compelled to give his encryption keys. It is no different than being compelled to provide the key to a locked desk. The location of the key is irrelevant, whether it be in his mind or on his keychain.

Re:Self Incrimination Irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418973)

A search warrant usually has to describe an item or place to be searched. You can write a search warrant for a physical drive, but it should be a farce that you could write a search warrant for interpretation of the contents of that drive. Similarly you write a warrant to search for and seize a notbook, but could not write a warrant that forced a person to interpret notes written in that notebook. Attempting to compel an ecryption key is to force the defendant to interpret evidence, that should not be allowed.

Hope springs eternal... (3, Funny)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 5 months ago | (#47418699)

None of the 50 passwords he provided worked

I really want to meet the cop who said, after failure 35: "Hey come on guys let's ask one more time!"

Pathetic. Time to hang these traitor scums. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418777)

Starting with this shit judge.

Unprovidable keys (1)

Falos (2905315) | about 5 months ago | (#47418781)

Gag orders and such have already been flaunted; the law comes up with bullshit to try and force childish "you can't do that!" rules and other simpleminded "solutions" that seemingly box things in. Then people circumvent it with deadman canaries that they can't be accused as "responsible" for.

My immediate reaction was a 24-48h deadman that locks up and send the decrypt to someone random on a list. The list includes sythetic names. By nature the message obviously signifies duress (or death) and the messenger will make an appropriate approach.

"I can't decrypt it. That's not a figurative claim; I literally do not have the capability to decrypt it, and I don't know who does."

I'm sure people more clever than I could imagine solutions better than my proof-of-concept.

Trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47418873)

"He's also accused of trolling on Facebook."

It has begun.

The Internet Needs More Random Data (2)

Maltheus (248271) | about 5 months ago | (#47418899)

I would love for gmail to give people the option of a random noise uuencoded .sig to be attached to each and every e-mail. Flood the world with random data and this issue goes away. No one would be able to say for sure what was encrypted or not. If done ubiquitously, it could bring all the STASI-like agencies to their knees.

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