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Backlash Against British Encryption Law 409

Posted by Zonk
from the feel-the-love dept.
gardenermike writes "The BBC is reporting on some backlash against the British Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) that came into force in 2000, which makes it a criminal act to refuse to decrypt files on a computer. Not surprisingly, the bugaboos of child pornography and terrorism, while unquestionably heinous, are being used to justify a law which does little to protect against either. Lord Phillips of Sudbury is quoted 'You do not secure the liberty of our country and value of our democracy by undermining them, that's the road to hell.'"
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Backlash Against British Encryption Law

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  • by Cybert4 (994278) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @12:50PM (#15911535)
    Does somebody posessing some bits on a computer equal somebody who posses plans to blow me up? Obviously a crime went into the making of the file. But it's quite easy to have stuff on your hard disk that you didn't knowingly download. Should a nasty video that happen to got downloaded with something else make you a criminal? So certain bit patterns make one a felon?
    • Probably the same reason rape often gets the same or more jail time than murder. Even though the first only involves a temporary loss of freedom and some unwanted intrusions that are over in a few minutes, and the other leave you *dead*.
      • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @12:57PM (#15911600)
        > Probably the same reason rape often gets the same or more jail time than murder. Even though the first only involves a temporary loss of freedom and some unwanted intrusions that are over in a few minutes, and the other leave you *dead*.

        But if you really wanna rack up jail time, try copyright infringement!

      • To be fair, many would argue that rape and murder are on-par because of the long-term trauma that most people suffer as a result of rape. Certainly they are both violent crimes which any sane society takes a very firm stand against, so I'm not sure why jail time should differ between them. The thing that I've always had a problem with is that there are degrees of murder, but not of rape. Granted, it's much harder to commit rape by accident, but in murder cases, there is the concept of premeditation, and the law recognizes a premeditated murder as a distinct sort of crime.

        The real problem between those is that we're recognizing the power of rage to erase reason, but not of lust. That seems... uneven.
        • Trauma (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @05:03PM (#15914420)
          Here's a simple acid test for you: how many rape victims, one year later, would rather have been murdered? If they're equivalent, wouldn't most of those rape victims say that death would have been no worse a fate? Here in reality though, most rape victims are glad to still be alive, because rape just isn't anywhere near as bad as being killed. Yes, it revolts us, and yes, it is terrible. But murder is on a whole different plane of existence, as far as crimes go.

          Seriously though -- I suggest you ask a rape victim sometime: would it have been equally unpleasant if you had been killed instead? See how many of them take you seriously. Then note how many rape victims have gone on to relatively normal lives. Hint: it's an awful lot of them. Statistics say that 1 in 4 women experiences sexual assault of some kind during her life. Do you see 1 in 4 women wishing she'd been killed instead? Do you see 1 in 4 women spending the rest of their lives hiding in their basement with a baseball bat because they can't go on with life? Are 1 in 4 women effectively dead?

          Murder > Rape. Deal with it. That doesn't mean that rape isn't a serious crime worthy of serious punishment. It's just that it's stupid to suggest that they're just as bad as each other.

      • temporary loss of freedom and some unwanted intrusions that are over in a few minutes

        Never spoken to a rape victim I see. I suppose the years of sleepless nights, nightmares, inability to trust others or form a meaningful relationship, and fear of people in general *does* eventually end, but I wouldn't say it's all over in a few minutes.

    • by plague3106 (71849) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:13PM (#15911749)
      Obviously a crime went into the making of the file.

      Obviously? What about an image which is 100% computer generated?
    • Why is child pornography as bad as terrorism?

      Who the crap said it was? TFA didn't. The summary didn't. Mentioning two things in the same sentence does not imply that they are equal.

      Besides, even if one did claim that the two are just as bad, they would have an argument. How many people outside Iraq's warzone were killed by terrorist acts this year? Not nearly as many as the number of kids that were exploited and are going to have screwed up lives because of these sick fuckers. To many people, child porno
    • As someone else pointed out, nobody really said it is. I'm personally tempted to say that the making of it is worse, as I suspect forcing or coercing children to sex causes more suffering than terrorism does. I'm also tempted to say that the possession of it doesn't concern me much, because I don't think that possessing it will really change the amount of suffering involved.

      Aside from that, though, I worry about the word "unquestionably". Anyone who thinks terrorism is unquestionably heinous should really r
    • Children (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mark_MF-WN (678030)

      Molesting a few children and taking pictures of it is definitely nowhere NEAR as bad as killing hundreds of people (including dozens of children). But crimes against children evoke a far more visceral revulsion in people than just pushing a button that blows some people up. In fact, the difference in how people respond to immoral acts has been studied with interesting results.

      http://www.discover.com/issues/apr-04/features/who se-life-would-you-save/ [discover.com]

      Basically it seems to come down to how directly som

  • by mordors9 (665662) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @12:51PM (#15911542)
    Any time you disagree with the latest reduction of your civil liberties by government, it must be because you are hiding something. If you disagreed with the tactics of Joe McCarthy, it must have been because you were a pinko. If you don't want your phone calls listened to, you must be a terrorist. If you disagree with this law, its because you are a kiddie porn collector.
    • It's the establishments continuing evolution of a kind of "reverse Godwin's Law" designed to end all arguements. I think they feel like when they trot this out, you lose because there is no place to stand that they feel they can't paint as "morally ambiguous".
    • Too right. With this sort of system, the average citizen is damned both if they comply and if they refuse to.

      People fear terrorism, which is what this law was probably meant to address. Unfortunately, with this sort of law in place, people still fear terrorism - and begin to fear their own government.

      One of the primary roles of any government is to protect the interests of its citizens on at least the most basic levels. But in pursuing their safety, there are lines that ought not be crossed. There is no
    • by Petskull (650178) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:16PM (#15911778)

      I read something here [slashdot.org] a long time ago, and I think I'll repost it in it's entirety because it's just that important:

      "If you haven't done anything wrong, what do you have to hide?"

      Ever heard that one? I work in information security, so I have heard it more than my fair share. I've always hated that reasoning, because I am a little bit paranoid by nature, something which serves me very well in my profession. So my standard response to people who have asked that question near me has been "because I'm paranoid." But that doesn't usually help, since most people who would ask that question see paranoia as a bad thing to begin with. So for a long time I've been trying to come up with a valid, reasoned, and intelligent answer which shoots the holes in the flawed logic that need to be there.

      And someone unknowingly provided me with just that answer today. In a conversation about hunting, somebody posted this about prey animals and hunters:
      "Yeah! Hunters don't kill the *innocent* animals - they look for the shifty-eyed ones that are probably the criminal element of their species!"
      but in a brilliant (and very funny) retort, someone else said:
      "If they're not guilty, why are they running?"

      Suddenly it made sense, that nagging thing in the back of my head. The logical reason why a reasonable dose of paranoia is healthy. Because it's one thing to be afraid of the TRUTH. People who commit murder or otherwise deprive others of their Natural Rights are afraid of the TRUTH, because it is the light of TRUTH that will help bring them to justice.

      But it's another thing entirely to be afraid of hunters. And all too often, the hunters are the ones proclaiming to be looking for TRUTH. But they are more concerned with removing any obstactles to finding the TRUTH, even when that means bulldozing over people's rights (the right to privacy, the right to anonymity) in their quest for it. And sadly, these people often cannot tell the difference between the appearance of TRUTH and TRUTH itself. And these, the ones who are so convinced they have found the TRUTH that they stop looking for it, are some of the worst oppressors of Natural Rights the world has ever known.

      They are the hunters, and it is right and good for the prey to be afraid of the hunters, and to run away from them. Do not be fooled when a hunter says "why are you running from me if you have nothing to hide?" Because having something to hide is not the only reason to be hiding something.

      • by Petskull (650178) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:24PM (#15911844)

        I forgot to add this from here [slashdot.org]

        3. Because there are lots of little things we do every day that break the rules. These include: j-walking, downloading MP3's, subletting without telling your landlord, recording sporting events without express written concent, undocumented domestic help, recreational drug use, stealing cable, logging on to other people's wireless networks, "leaking" company information to your girlfriend, anything besides the missionary position (in many states), cheating on your wife (in many states), rolling stops on empty streets, u-turns in the middle of empty streets, locking your bicycle to the handrailing, lying about your age to get into movies, lying about your age to get senior citizens discounts, lying about your age to avoid getting senior citizens discounts, telling your company that you're "sick" when you really mean you're "sick and tired of this crappy job," not reporting e-bay sales as taxable income, grabbing an extra newspaper when someone else buys one from the machine, putting chairs in the street to save your parking spot, stealing office supplies, stealing the towels, littering, loitering, the office NCAA pool, etc etc. All of these are necessary for the functioning of our society in some way or another, but are illegal. Yet we would go batshit insane without a few personal pet vices.

        And the system has been built with this in mind: nobody wants to stop your weekly 5$ poker match, they wanted to stop the gambling houses where people lost their rent money. Enforce the letter of the law, and the intent of the law gets lost.

      • I always go for the 'Oh, really? So what is your credit card number? Do you have a daughter? What path does she take home from school? Is there a nice secluded grove of trees along that route? What do you have to hide if you are not a terrorist?' angle myself. It's much the same as the hunter analogy, but it's a little more personal that way.

        People on the 'What do you have to hide?' bandwagon always seem to assume that it is GUILTY things I want to keep secret...
      • Where have I seen this post before [google.com].... oh right... on Slashdot, by other people.
    • Here are my favorites in the genre:

      If you disagree with copyright laws you are just a thief.
      If you disagree with drug laws you are just a junkie who wants to smoke dope.
      If you disagree with laws setting arbitrary speed limits you are just a bad driver.
      • Yeah, let's throw in a few more:
        If you disagree with not protecting IP you're a corporate shill.
        If you disagree with total drug deregulation (which BTW I agree with) you're like, totally a bigot, mon.
        If you disagree with Israelis fighting for their lives you're a fascist pig.

        Nobody is innocent of this tactic. Deal with it.
  • by Ravenscall (12240) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @12:51PM (#15911546)
    Guy Fawkes masks in 4...3...2..
    • it would be intresting to get people to randomly walk around with them..

      just for fun..
    • by 42Penguins (861511) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:20PM (#15911808)
      "People shouldn't be afraid of their government, governments should be afraid of their people."
    • What I find funny is Lord anything talking about Democracy...

      • by RLiegh (247921) *
        What makes me want to cry is Lord anything making more of an impassioned stand for civil liberties than any of the people we've elected recently in our american 'democracy'.

        It's past time to bail out; but there's no where to bail out to.
        • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @04:08PM (#15913846) Journal
          This is something that comes up again and again in British politics - it's never the elected representatives who stand up for justice, freedom from tyranny, the common rights of the common man; it's always the unelected, completely privileged members of the house of Lords who cock a snook at the government of the day, and make a stand on these issues.

          Strange, that it's precisely the people who are voted into power who abuse it, but the "undemocratic" "establishment" figures are the ones who defend it. Sad, really. The lords can do and say what they like because they're not elected (well, some (all?) are, now), and that freedom is worth something to others.

          When Tony Blair said he was going to abolish the house of Lords, I thought "there goes democracy in Britain", I've lost count of the number of times the Lords have told the government (and I mean *both* parties here, both Tory and Labour) of the day to re-think something because the effect on the least-fortunate or most-vulnerable in society is too extreme. Partly it comes because they're *not* elected, part because of the social contract inherent in British society, partly because as individuals they *are* partisan, so the {labour} lords will pick apart the {tory} government policies and vice versa. It's a weird typically-British hotch-potch of conflicts, but somehow it all works... You'd never get it past a "government design" planning committe...

          The government can always bulldoze a bill through parliament if it gets rejected/resubmitted by the Lords 3 times (I think), but that creates news, and normally when a bill is that bad, news is not what the government want... The Lords act as a counter-balance to over-eager legislation. It *is* weird, but it works quite well :-)

          Thank [insert random deity] for the Lords :-)

          Simon.
          • I'm glad someone else thinks this.

            The fact that our democratically elected government are the ones trying to bring in all of these laws to erase our civil liberties and it's the priveliged Lords that actually make a stand for personal freedom is, to my mind, one of the strangest things in politics.

            No wonder Tony and co. have been trying to castrate the House of Lords for the last decade as an "old fashioned, outdated bastion of the Old School Ties", despite the fact that these aging peers seem to have a clu
  • by TheGreek (2403) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @12:53PM (#15911561)
    Lord Phillips of Sudbury is quoted 'You do not secure the liberty of our country and value of our democracy by undermining them, that's the road to hell.'"
    Because when I want somebody's ideas on what comprises a democracy, I ask somebody with a peerage.
    • Re:Lord Phillips (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bogtha (906264) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @12:59PM (#15911617)

      Actually, since the House of Lords don't have to chase after votes all the time, they help chuck out all the stupid knee-jerk laws the House of Commons come up with to make it look like they are doing something important. It's a useful component of a democratic system that mitigates one of the downsides of democracy - that the elected representatives are concerned with appearances more than the well-being of the country.

      • Re:Lord Phillips (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eipgam (945201) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:05PM (#15911668)
        Absolutely, as ironic as it may seem given I support decomcracy, I'm a huge fan of the House of Lords. It's an important check on Parliament, particularly given that hereditary peers have essentially been phased out and the only new members of the chamber will be those appointed by government - in fact quite a few experts in their particular fields get appointed. The US has the same idea with the Senate v the House of Representatives (although the Senate is elected), with the Senate being the more "measured" of the two.

        Lets hope that Parliament doesn't further castrate the House of Lords with its latest reforms of the lower chamber.
        • Re:Lord Phillips (Score:5, Insightful)

          by amliebsch (724858) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:14PM (#15911753) Journal

          The US has the same idea with the Senate v the House of Representatives (although the Senate is elected), with the Senate being the more "measured" of the two.

          What most people - even Americans - don't know is that in fact the Senate was not originally elected at all. It was filled with the appointees of states legislatures (two from each state), who could fill the appointments however they best saw fit. It wasn't until the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, made during an era of populist progressivism in 1913, that the Senate became filled by direct election.

          Personally, I think it is an open question whether this particular reform has been a net positive or negative.

          • Re:Lord Phillips (Score:5, Insightful)

            by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:25PM (#15911853) Homepage Journal

            Personally, I think it is an open question whether this particular reform has been a net positive or negative.

            I don't think it's a question at all. I think it's been very negative because it eliminated the voice that state governments had in the federal government, allowing the federal government to run roughshod over the states. The fact that senators were appointed by (and could be recalled by!) their respective states was another way of setting the components of government in opposition to one another. By making senators popularly elected, we significantly reduced the strength of one of the "checks and balances" built into the system.

            • I was being charitable to those who would argue in favor of direct democracy - but I agree with you, 100%.
          • Personally, I think it is an open question whether this particular reform has been a net positive or negative.

            I don't -- I think it's a negative, right along with electors being chosen by popular vote (it ought to be done by the state legislatures).

            As far as modifications to our government's structure go, I do think the Presidential term limits are a good thing, and that the concept ought to be expanded to cover Congress as well. Of course, it might be useful only to limit congressmen to two consecutive t

            • Re:Lord Phillips (Score:3, Informative)

              by amliebsch (724858)

              right along with electors being chosen by popular vote (it ought to be done by the state legislatures).

              Technically, it is being done by the state legislatures. It's just that all the legislatures have decided to base their decision on a popular vote. There's no federal or constitutional requirement that they hold a vote, though.

        • US senators were originally chosen by the State legislatures, it wasn't until the 17th Amendment was fully ratified in 1913 that popular election of senators became practise.

          Arguably things have gone downhill since, althought the 6-year term for senators vs 2 years for representatives does help a bit -- the latter are pretty much campaigning all the time.
      • Indeed. They serve roles a bit like the US Supreme Court (a seat on which is much like a life peerage to the Law Lords) and the US Senate. The Senate's 6-year term is designed to give it some of the same moderating effect, in that they're not continuously campaigning.

        The House of Lords does not often overturn bills; they see their job is to oversee the House of Commons, not compete with them. But I think that having them there has a moderating effect on the bills that are put into play.
        • Re:Lord Phillips (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ad0gg (594412)
          Our senate was designed not to be elected by the people thus not directly influenced by mob mentality that the house suffers from, they were suppose to be appointed by the state government. But certain amdendment changed all that and fucked up system. So now we get all these feel good laws, and since there is no balance(senate being really controlled by the state government), congress has taken lot of power away from the states.
    • Re:Lord Phillips (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CheddarHead (811916)
      Perhaps that is a bit ironic, but he does seem to have a better grasp of how to maintain liberty and democracy than many elected leaders.
    • Re:Lord Phillips (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tx (96709)
      Because when I want somebody's ideas on what comprises a democracy, I ask somebody with a peerage.

      That's fair comment, but it's worth pointing out the first elected parliament was instigated by Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, in England in 1265. So arguably modern parliamentary democracy was invented by someone with a peerage ;).
    • Re:Lord Phillips (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mspohr (589790)
      Actually, I thought he was quite eloquent.

      It really better to look at the substance of what people say rather than peg them to a stereotype.

    • Re:Lord Phillips (Score:5, Informative)

      by Triskele (711795) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:09PM (#15911704)
      Because when I want somebody's ideas on what comprises a democracy, I ask somebody with a peerage.
      He's a Life Peer not an inherited aristocrat (we've mostly got rid of those, thank you). You can find the details of what lead to his nomination here [libdems.org.uk].

      The closest parallel I can think of would be one of your Chief Justices... They provide some oversight on Parliament's legislation, tend to be less bound by party politics and rarely bothered by winning votes.

      Personally, given the parlous state of your nation, I'd think twice about throwing jibes around about democracy.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Lord Phillips of Sudbury is quoted 'You do not secure the liberty of our country and value of our democracy by undermining them, that's the road to hell.'"
    Way to go Lord Phillips. There is hope in this world after all.
  • Won't work.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stillmatic (874559) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @12:59PM (#15911611)
    Because you are going to decrypt your terrorist documents to avoid a slap on the wrist?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sine New Labour came to power back in 1997, we have had more laws passed relating to Criminality thane ever before.
    It is widely acknoweledged that many of these laws are badly thought out and despite the attempts of the House of Lords to revise them, they are actually inneffectual and sometimes impossible to enforce by both the Police and the Courts.
    This is one of those laws.
    There was huge amounts of SPIN associated with its passage through parliament. Sort of like "This law will save the world"

    Now, just a
  • Rather than making it a crime to not decrypt encrypted files, they could go the positive incentive route. For example, they could, if Joe Blow unlocks his uncrypted files for them, ensure nothing bad will happen to his kids, such as them being forced to perform sex acts on the chief of police.
    • "Joe Blow unlocks his uncrypted files for them, ensure nothing bad will happen to his kids, such as them being forced to perform sex acts on the chief of police."

      With such a surname, this might be a problem that everyone in this family might run into.
  • I suppose it makes coding in APL [faqs.org] (without documentation) a crime.
  • Why not... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ShadyG (197269) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {cisumyargb}> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:05PM (#15911662) Homepage
    ...just name your encrypted files random.xx, and claim that they are not encrypted at all? They are just local entropy bits you consume for testing software.
    • There are all sorts of clever tricks you could use to obfuscate your data, but if you don't want to live in a society where you have to use them now is the time to put a stop to this sort of bullshit. Courage, brother.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:05PM (#15911666) Journal
    Lord Phillips of Sudbury is quoted 'You do not secure the liberty of our country and value of our democracy by undermining them, that's the road to hell.'
    Funny, I thought that was the road to Washington, DC.

    Maybe it's the history of the British fight against the IRA, but it seems to me that the British people have been a little more tolerant of state intrusion than Americans. What I infer is happening now is that the overboard Orwellianism of the current British government is reaching a tipping point where a lot of Brits are wondering, "How much is too much?".

    Unfortunately, in the US, I think we're nowhere close to that tipping point yet... and quite honestly, I'm not sure that a majority of the public is aware of how little freedom[1] they have, nor of how long it will take for that mindset to change.

    At any rate, It's good to see that someone is vocally taking a stance (won't happen by a major figure in the US; too much conserative/moderate vote-pandering -- heaven forbid you're 'weak on terra').

    [1] Besides the obvious encroachments on our traditional liberties, what about the freedom to elect whom we choose? Corporate sponsorship of candidates, the two-party system; these all contribute to mass disenfranchisement (never mind about vote tabulation fraud and individual disenfranchisements).
    • [1] Besides the obvious encroachments on our traditional liberties, what about the freedom to elect whom we choose? Corporate sponsorship of candidates, the two-party system; these all contribute to mass disenfranchisement (never mind about vote tabulation fraud and individual disenfranchisements).

      You left out the biggest one of them all -- gerrymandering. I don't have the cite handy, but I'm pretty sure that somewhere well north of 80% of all federal offices are gerrymandered in the USA.
      • Yes, a huge problem -- due to the nature of the two-party system. A lot harder to manage when there are more than two choices, and when the biggest group has a plurality, not a majority.
    • by jd (1658)
      I would say that the British - as a whole - are more tolerent of moderate intrusion as the price paid for maintaining a highly inclusive society, but are vastly more hostile to excesses. Some of the protests in the past in England would not - and could not - have occurred in almost any other country.

      This works for and against the British. Politicians, knowing that they will receive leniency, are more inclined to abuse power. So there's a vast amount of low-grade abuse. But actual high-grade in-your-face abu

  • Simple enough (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anon-Admin (443764) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:09PM (#15911708) Homepage Journal
    Some one needs to mod GPG to include Steganography [wikipedia.org]

    One password decrypts to unimportant data, the other provides your true payload.

    Then when they demand your password, you give them the first one. You have met the law and have plausible deniability.
  • jail anyone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:10PM (#15911712)
    It's great, this law gives the police an opportunity to put anyone they want in prison.

    (1) Grab someone's computer.

    (2) Find a binary file containing more-or-less random data, or pick an image on their machine and claim it has stegonometric data embedded in it.

    (3) Demand the password for this "data".

    (4) Jail the "miscreant" when he claims he doesn't know.
  • I would like to know, in what way is this law different from court warrant powers demanding one open up their home or safe to police holding said warrant? To refuse law enforcement means risking contempt of court or possibly obstruction of justice. So the government now gets to demand information locked up in a different way. But in what way are the powers of law enforcement different between searching physical property with a warrant vs. digital files?
    • I would like to know, in what way is this law different from court warrant powers demanding one open up their home or safe to police holding said warrant?

      I think this is an important point. An awful lot of legislation that goes into our books is badly thought out, but worse, is usually already covered by existing legislation. And as you point out, at the end of the day, a court can insist on you decrypting your data and if you refuse, you risk contempt of court (which is far more serious than it sounds).

    • They can search your computer with the same warrant powers, this forces you to incriminate yourself. by divulging something you know that can lead to damming evidence. It's possible to break nearly all forms of encryption given time and computational power so if the government realy wants in they can get in but they would have to actualy do work to do so. For a real terrorist investigation they will break the ciphers for joe blow with some kiddy porn they probably wouldent bother. Besides what terrorist
      • Re:Is this wrong? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maynard (3337)

        "They can search your computer with the same warrant powers, this forces you to incriminate yourself. by divulging something you know that can lead to damming evidence.

        And how is that different from the police searching your home with a warrant? Suppose they found a murder weapon in your home that you knew of? Is "allowing" them to search thus incriminating yourself as well? No. Self incrimination only refers to speech under oath. Further, you can be compelled to self-incriminating speech (here in the US) u

    • But in what way are the powers of law enforcement different between searching physical property with a warrant vs. digital files?

      Indeed, and that's exactly why the proposed law is a bad thing. Every unnecessary law removes some freedom, imposes some burden, is prone to some misuse and may ultimately lead to unintended consequences. As hard as it is to get a law passed, it is a million times harder to have a law removed, and becomes exponentially harder with time.

      It's such an important point that I'll
  • Deviant alternative (Score:2, Informative)

    by works (995530)
    In case you do want to crypt your files and when forced by an official of this oppressive regime to decrypt them, you make sure that you use TrueCrypt http://www.truecrypt.org/ [truecrypt.org] From the page: Provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password: 1) Hidden volume. 2) No TrueCrypt volume can be identified (volumes cannot be distinguished from random data). So with one password you can open a volume that 'appears' to be what you needed to encrypt, but still
  • As I was saying elsewhere [reddit.com], the UK has a history of passing stupid laws, and then having the rest of the country ignore or bypass them.

    For example, we have a law saying that all schools must provide daily worship of a predominantly Christian nature. Over three-quarters of schools in the country are simply breaking the law [bbc.co.uk] or finding loopholes [bbc.co.uk]. As a result, the law is being relaxed [bbc.co.uk], and will probably be disposed of entirely before long.

    If you are approaching this from an American perspective, where b

    • It's one of the things that genuinely scares me about people in the US, that they will blindly follow any law no matter how stupid, ill-conceived or intrusive.

      Here in the UK, we will follow the law, unless it's inconvenient (speed limits), unpopular (drug laws), badly thought-out (foxhunting ban) or merely obscure (did you know that all men in England are required to practice archery for an afternoon a week? Not required in Scotland, Wales or NI, and possibly repealed in England now).
  • What about an encryption/compression scheme where the cyphertext decrypts to one, two or more different plaintexts depending on the password provided? The scheme should actually fill the cyphertext with lots of random data, so no clues are given towards the number of encrypted payloads contained.
  • by jtroutman (121577) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:24PM (#15911845)
    How stiff are the penalties for not decrypting the files? If the offense that the criminal has ostensibly committed (terrorism and paedophilia were the two mentioned in the article) carries a hefty jail sentence, wouldn't they be likely to say, "Okay, I'll take the six months for not letting you see my files", rather than the more severe punishment their crime deserves?
    • IIRC the punishment is 3 years for not decrypting the data, which can rise to 5 if (seriously!) you inform anyone about the fact that you're being investigated under the act.

      Whereas Gary Glitter was apparently sentenced to four months [wikipedia.org] for possession of child porn.

      That being said, it's probably rather easier to resume a normal life if your CV reads "3 years in prison for not complying with an RIPA demand" rather than "4 months in prison for possessing indecent pictures of small children".
  • (RIPA) that came into force in 2000, which makes it a criminal act to refuse to decrypt files on a computer

    If such a thing is really constitutional, then it should also be constitutional to demand that anyone accused of murder turn over the body or imprision them forever in contempt of court. You'd just better pray that you actually did commit the murder, or you may never get out.

  • What you need is a double decryption key. Decrypts your files one way with one key, and into something innocuous when decrypted by a second key.
  • by computational super (740265) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @01:46PM (#15912038)

    At first, I read the title as "Backlash Against British Encryption Law Against British Law". The sad part is, I wasn't surprised.

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