Careful with those encryption keys or it is a few years in jail

‘The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) has had a clause activated which allows a person to be compelled to reveal a decryption key. Refusal can earn someone a five-year jail term.’

‘Section 49 of Part III of RIPA compels a person, when served with a notice, to either hand over an encryption key or render the requested material intelligible by authorities.’

As reported by 

So anyone who thinks that they can encrypt everything and still think they can get away with it (whatever it may be)… they are wrong. What they will have is a maximum of two-year standard five-year jail term or fine. 

I wonder what happens when someone has information on his/her HDD encrypted by the likes of a virus/Trojan? Good luck proving/disproving that one!

Updated (10/10/2007):

After reading section 49 of RIPA http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2000/ukpga_20000023_en_8#pt3-pb1-l1g49
Sections of interest:

Section 53-Failing to comply with a notice,
(1) A person to whom a section 49 notice has been given is guilty of an offence if he knowingly fails, in accordance with the notice, to make the disclosure required by virtue of the giving of the notice.
(5) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable-
(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine, or to both;
(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.

Section 54-Tipping-off,
(4)A person who makes a disclosure to any other person of anything that he is required by a section 49 notice to keep secret shall be guilty of an offence and liable-
(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine, or to both;
(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.

Therefore from the above we can deduce that a maximum of a two-year jail term or fine can be given if found guilty under section 49 for non-disclosure and five-year or fine if found guilty for disclosing information to another person.

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2 Responses to Careful with those encryption keys or it is a few years in jail

  1. Drew says:

    There is a get out clause thougth where they can only ask for information you know – if you have forgotton then they they have show that you have not. If you have regularly been accessing that information for example whould be evidance they you are telling porkies, and they would do you like a kipper!

    Section 53 is quite robust in regard to this.

  2. Nafik says:

    The gov’t is out of control. The take and take and use our money to get more power over us. Try genittg decent medical care, try genittg anything in this country. Our taxes go up and up and up, politicians are living high on the hog, and the rest of us are paying for it. The census is just another useless gov’t dept. which exists in order to give more power to the gov’t, and make the gov’t bigger and scarier. And anyone who believes who STILL believes that anything the gov’t does or collects about you is confidential is a complete moron and obviously has never read the news reports about computers / disks that have been found thrown in the trash, etc., containing reams of confidential info on the citizens. Canada becomes more Orwellian by the second. Don’t give up your rights. In a democratic and free society, the state does not maintain detailed records on citizens people have fought hard, and in some cases given their lives, so that we can have a properly functioning democracy. .The federal government sparked fury among statisticians and researchers last summer when Industry Minister Tony Clement removed the penalties for not completing the census.

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