UK law says provide key to encrypted data or go to jail

Lose your encryption key? Up to five years in jail for child porn or terrorism, two for other crimes.

So says the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 as pointed out by Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party. Using the typical scare tactics to cancel rights (terrorism, child porn, file sharing, and organized crime), the UK now can send you to jail if you can't decrypt what they think is encrypted.

Files that look encrypted, such as radio telescope noise, can land you in jail. Falkvinge takes the next step, admittedly tenuous, that if the UK police really want you jailed, they can demand you decrypt files hidden using Stenography inside your vacation photos. Can't do it? Off to jail.


The V For Vendetta universe is closer to reality...

lxskllr on

Worst case scenario any police officer who decides to lean on you can easily threaten you with a fairly reasonable chance of being sent to jail for refusing to “decrypt” what is, in essence, nothing more than a corrupt file or white noise.

Scary Devil Monastery on

Remember, its for the police to prove your guilt, not you to prove your innocence. And the law in question does actually talk about that.

PaulAJ on


We are have begun to outlaw privacy. This is wrong. Speak up, while you still have a voice.

vy8vWJlco on

The law is enforceable against anyone the law wants intimidated or detained.

ChrisB on

Who DOES it help? It would certainly help a totalitarian government keeping tabs on opposition and whistleblowers. Thank God we don't have a totalitarian government....oh...

Mordred on

Damn, the UK is pretty f'ed up - the list of things that British citizens can't enjoy compared to a lot of other countries (even developing ones) is growing every day.

jakeonthemove on


Here in Brazil is guaranteed by the constitution that no one can be forced to produce any evidence against him/herself. Isn't there something like this in the UK?

alberich on

While the police can lock you up if they can persuade a judge [s49(2)] to grant an order under this law (which requires the judge to have reasonable belief), that’s only pre-trial detention (so usual laws about bail, Article 6 ECHR etc. come into play – although these are pretty ludicrous in the UK anyway).

Duke on

Another thought: doesn't this make it possible to frame someone by writing random data to their hard drive?

nathan_long on

When do you think this law will be folded into the Patriot Act in the US: A) next year B) within 5 years C) never.

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