UK: Dozens of criminals have gone to jail to keep passwords secret

Fiona Hamilton reports:

Convictions of suspects who refuse to hand over their encrypted passwords have risen sixfold in four years, potentially blocking police from examining their electronic devices.

The sharp increase has led to fears that criminals are opting to plead guilty to encryption offences rather than allow detectives to go through their computers and phones, which could lead to more serious charges and longer sentences.

Read more on The Times (subscription required).

About the author: Dissent

4 comments to “UK: Dozens of criminals have gone to jail to keep passwords secret”

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  1. Billy Rubin - November 4, 2015

    Coming soon to a country near you….

  2. Roknrol - November 4, 2015

    So…when did “suspects” become “criminals?

    • Dissent - November 4, 2015

      Presumably when they violate the law requiring them to provide their decryption key.

  3. IA Eng - November 6, 2015

    I am not willing to pay for a subscription, so lets dabble on what this is all about.

    Anyone becomes a criminal when they refuse to give up a password. It has happened in the IT world, and I am sure it happens at the Customs border just as much.

    Sure crooks in general can do the same thing to keep their messages, website visits and other things under cover, but the people who investigate this stuff is going about this all wrong. As long as they know the ISP or carrier, and the phone number or IP, the corporation that gives service to these individuals can be tapped for data. I am sure there are ways for the forensic people to gather data. Sure this would take some time, but its not impossible.

    The agency that is looking for more data needs to have justifiable cause to ask for an decryption key. How many people you know are usually in knee deep hot water ? I don’t know anyone that the Feds would walk up to and ask for the phone information. These people the Feds are asking are probably BOT herders, scammers, hackers, script-kiddies, fraudsters, Identity thieves, tax scam artists or the like. The corrupt see the windows of opportunity closing around them and they are closed mouth to keep the entire chain of crooks from going to jail. I am sure there is a pact that says, if one of them go to jail that the family will be taken care of…… with other people’s hard earned money.

    Most people need to cry, I am innocent until proven guilty – I am also a victim of a freedom of speech and privacy act violations, and then the battle becomes two sided. No longer do the Feds have the person under their thumb. Now they have to prove that they actually have solid, concrete evidence that the device in hand was actually used to perform an illegal act. If they already have that data – then why do they need the device in the first place? It’s so they can pluck valuable data to prosecute other potential criminals that this person has communicated with. Its VERY tough to prove, or dismiss a direct link between a honest citizen and a harmless call to a wrong number which happens to be a number the Feds are watching. Sometimes the lack of attention on the Feds side can come back to bite them, and in an effort not to be proven wrong, they will go to the Nth degree to find some invisible link between person A and person B. A person can be brought up in front of the courts and drug through the mud. They lose face, maybe their job and have to thwart an invasion of privacy to keep the feds from finding out some other dark secrets (like playtime at Ashley Madison)…… so they tell the feds to go to hell. That ends up throwing them in jail instead of offering a compromise and a letting a very detailed and specific search warrant be created so the Feds can only seize data that is specifically described in the warrant.

    But again, in order to draw the attention of most Feds, someone has to practicing something illegal or wrong. This close article doesn’t specify if the data they have is country specific or world wide in nature. If you don’t want people digging into your personal devices at the border, ship them via a world-wide carrier and odds are if the shipment is done right, the device will beat you there. Buy a disposable phone to do minimal things when between locations. Let the temp phone be a pre-paid device that can afford to be lost. Heck any major store sells these type of phones.

    If one is worried about an innocent bystander standing up in front of an almighty court surrounded by Feds, there is a 99.9% chance that this is not going to happen. In order to be in hot water, one must step in the pot and turn the hot water on.

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