Forget your password, go to Jail?

A 19 year old gets a 16 week jail term for not disclosing an encryption password.

I suspect most geeks have taken stuff and encrypted it – although I rarely do these days, because:

  • I generally forget the password over time
  • After a few years, the software isn’t generally easily available

So encryption is just a fancy way of deleting things slowly 🙂

Being an electronic records geek, I now tend to keep things I care about spinning on a hard drive (backed up!) in a good long term file format. Encryption just adds two additional risks, that I will lose the password or the clever encryption software.

But it appears that is no defence… and you might think they use these kinds of laws against people they “know” are guilty but can’t prosecute them for anything else (which in itself has civil liberties issues), but in this case from the article:

Det Sgt Neil Fowler, of Lancashire police, said: “Drage was previously of good character so the immediate custodial sentence handed down by the judge in this case shows just how seriously the courts take this kind of offence.

Seems our Policemen friend was just trying to say how serious they take it:

“It sends a robust message out to those intent on trying to mask their online criminal activities that they will be taken before the courts with the ultimate sanction, as in this case, being a custodial sentence.”

But what he really seems to be saying is “If we think you are trying to be a criminal, and you can’t provide your password, then you go to Jail”.

That can’t be right, can it? Not in England. Only Police States have laws on the books that the Police can use to get you if they think you are guilty of something but can’t actually prove it?

And let’s not even get into the situation where it might not be me who put the file there… because it isn’t exactly hard to store a file on someone else’s computer is it?

I’m feeling kind of creeped out right now…