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Now It Is A Criminal Offence To Want Privacy From The Police

Netcu Watch | 11.11.2007 20:07 | Animal Liberation | Repression | Technology

From October 1st 2007 it has now been made an offence (punishable by up to 2 years in prison) not to hand over your pgp password to the police if they request it. An example below is from an animal rights activist who recently had her computer nabbed in a recent raid who now has been given 12 days to hand over the pgp password 'or else'. Many other AR activists have recieved the same demand/threat recently after recent raids. Who next?

Anonymous writes

I got back from a SPEAK demo on Saturday 3rd November 2007. Waiting for me was a shiny guaranteed next day delivery package. ”Goodness, how exciting!” thought I as I opened the package and saw it was from a bloke called Alistair from Hampshire CPS.

Now apparently they have found some encrypted files on my computer (which was stolen by police thugs in May this year) which they think they have “reasonable suspicion” to pry into using the excuse of “preventing or detecting a crime”.

Now I have been “invited” (how nice, will there be tea and biccies?) to reveal my keys to the police so they can look at these files. If I do not comply and tell them to keep their great big hooters out of my private affairs I could be charged under RIPA (sounds like some great big Nazi thug who wants to bash everyone doesn’t it?) and then spend 2 years in prison if convicted.

Funny thing is pgp and I never got on together I confess that I am far too dense for such a complex (well to me anyway) programme. Therefore in a so-called democracy I am being threatened with prison simply because I cannot access encrypted files on my computer .

Even if I could the police are my enemy, I know that they have given information about me to Huntingdon Life Sciences (as well as hospitalising me) would I really want them to see and then pass around private communications with my solicitors which could be used against me at a later date in the civil courts, medical records, embarrassing poetry which was never meant to be read by anyone else, soppy love letters or indeed personal financial transactions.

We are no longer entitled to privacy according to Alistair and his draconian chums in NETCU but methinks he is telling fibs and trying to create a climate of fear. They clearly do not want people to use pgp.

Of course we all have a duty to tell Alistair, Steve and co to stick RIPA where the sun does not shine and where none dare light a match.

RIPA is also being used retrospectively as it came into force on 1st October 2007.

My computer was seized on 1st May 2007.

This is a very important infringement of our liberty and must be challenged.

More on RIPA soon... but Alistair helpfully (bless him) gave me this web address for those who wish to see this odious piece of legislation in all its horror. The relevant page on the above mentioned website is

Take care out there!

Netcu Watch
- e-mail: netcu_watch(at)
- Homepage:


Some advice

12.11.2007 12:15

If someone from the CPS has sent a notice under RIPA then there is something fishy going on. That wouldn't surprise me as the whole thing is fishy.

Normally under RIPA the police should ask you to put the files into intelligible form. It should be rare that they demand keys, according to the Code of Practice which should be on the Home Office web site in the RIPA section.

As you are involved in animal rights (and thus a "terrorist") you can be imprisoned for up to five years, if memory serves me correctly.

It is a defence to show the court that you cannot remember the passphrase.

The police also give information to their allies in order to allow them to take civil actions. EDO MBM is an example outside the animal rights movement.


Is it a "Section 49 Notice"?

12.11.2007 13:16

Unfortunatley RIPA *can* be used on data acquired before RIPA came into force.

But, It may be a bluff (stuff about "invited"), unless it is a "Section 49 Notice" it has no legal effect. To get an idea of what a S.49 Notice looks like see
...but this is a DRAFT notice from seven years ago, so the real thing may look (slightly) different.

To demand the key (rather than demanding you do the decryption yourself and handover plaintext), the S.49 Notice must be authorised by a Chief Constable (or equivalent depending on how the data was seized)
See para 9.26 in

The S.49 Notice must specifiy what specific data is involved - if you can figure out how to extract the session key used for those files, you have a legal right to give up those specific session keys only, rather than your passphrase.

If you cannot remember the passphrase, and there is no evidence available to the police to the contrary (like you encrypted something else recently - think - might it have been in an intercepted e-mail?), then you have a possible legal defence. Watch out for the quality of legal advice you get - virtually no lawyers understand RIPA Pt.3. Try contacting Liberty and see if they will take it on as a test case. If Liberty turn you down, make a fuss on the web...

mail e-mail:

now being discussed on the ukcrypto mailing list

12.11.2007 17:05


and the rest of the thread on that mailing list -- which has been discussing issues surrounding encryption and the UK Law for more than a decade.

Richard Clayton

Nerd News

15.11.2007 00:44

Today's 'Register' covers this story with IM quoted. The comments can be very right wing as their readers are a mix of free software advocates mixed in equal measure with corporate suits. I think it is worth posting a link here though simply because some of the comments have technical tips that can help avoid a criminal charge, create a criminal charge, and so perhaps help end the law.

In short, anyone can help. Create a few encrypted files on your PC that contain nonsense data with keys typed randomly. Do this at each PC you ever use. Just now, they can arrest anyone using this charge, but they can't imprison everyone.

If you do have keyed encrypted files you want to keep secret, rename them with a common machine code extension like .bin, .exe or .com. Better still, still them on a rewritable CD /DVD or memory stick that is easily broken. Arranage in advance keywords that you can use in converstion to let the people you email encrypted stuff to that the key has

With basic precautions anyone can hide their communications from standard police examination. With sensible mass countermeasures - the basics of which are listed in the Register comments - this law can be rendered useless. Breaking a law isn't just failing to adhere to that law. Breaking the law means rendering it meaningless and unusable. This is an opportunity. Any geeks who have read this and thought about it should know what to do. As long as the law lasts it is a two-edged sword that can be used offensively. If you agree to pass over your key, delay for weeks. You don't want to stoop to their level you should still be aware of the risks so that you can avoid to you. If everyone had taken two hours to learn PGP and to use it everyday then we wouldn't be having this problem now.



Hide the following 32 comments


11.11.2007 20:59

have an open wifi connection and have no idea who has used it.

the defence

and you...

11.11.2007 22:59

have a very imaginative mind thinking that we would be so dense as to post whilst using a wi-fi connection.

Bye Bye Loser/s.

Sherlock (on behalf of NW)

oi Sherlock

11.11.2007 23:41

re-read the first comment and look for a different meaning.

gift horse

OI !

12.11.2007 00:04

and the meaning is?

Answers on a postcard to

PO Box 525
PE29 9AL
United Kingdom

Ask for Steven

crypt cracker

with this post

12.11.2007 00:26

political activists from all spectrums might get the jist that if they are raided and their computer is stolen and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy encryption) software is found on it by the filth can now believe that the authorities will be demanding their private (password) key 'with menaces' eg new RIPA legislation, fine, prison ..

Do we really need to use PGP? or a personal computer? or a mobile phone?

Thinking differently may hold the key to the future.

Maybe go retro.

Dreaming Digger

if thats what

12.11.2007 01:02

your up against?Rest easy.Sheeeerluck u is a muppet

the defence

riddle me this

12.11.2007 07:29

If you ever used wifi, then the defence is that someone hitched a ride on your wave-length and who knows what mischief they got up to leaving traces on your host, but hijacked machine. That was the answer but I didn't want to use a postcard.

The second thing is, as already noted: time to go lo-tech, retro, whatever. The old spy books had some good ideas. Or use OSS (*BSD/Linux) and get to learn how to remove traces. Or set up multiple redundancies on external hard-drives, stashed away from the mainframe.

Time to be creative. The pigs plod whilst we must be fleet of foot and sharp in mind. Be the fox when required, and a wolf pack to strike.

Kandee with a 'K'

Bloody hell - so dumb I doubt thatb this will help

12.11.2007 08:49

Bloody hell - Sherlock get a clue and try and read the posts before you post back crap.

Now if you have used PGP then you have an issue - why not just forget your passphrase?

In future try the plausible deniability aspect of TRUCRYPT.


Out fox them.

12.11.2007 11:13

In future use a public computer in an internet cafe where there is no CCTV and no ID needed.

Mobiles are a menace, they can be triangulated very easily and accurately. Public payphones are best but again, watch for CCTV.


bad memory

12.11.2007 11:57

as this new law under RIPA hasn't been challenged in court as yet it's hard to know if it is a plausible defence to say the password has been forgotten, even if that is genuinely the case.



12.11.2007 13:10

you will be unable to remember what the passphrase was after so many months - maybe if they had asked you at the time..... :)

Dave H
mail e-mail:

Just a thought

12.11.2007 16:15

If I was the person who got this piece of paper I would be tempted to blank out any information that related to me personally (though not any information relating to the public servant who sent it out) and upload it to some webspace. Indymedia might be suitable, or somewhere else.

Then I would draw people's attention to this piece of paper, by posting far and wide.

There is a lot of hidden opposition to this and I would suspect that this would draw some good advice, especially as this looks like a fishing expedition by the CPS if what is said in the original article is correct.

Tweetie Pie

TrueCrypt thrawts RIPA III

12.11.2007 18:31

TrueCrypt thrawts RIPA III

The UK government is going to deprive honest an law-abiding citizens of their liberties while criminals can carry on theirs businesses as usual, with just a little software upgrade.

Free software like TrueCrypt can conceal encrypted material in a way that prevent its detection.

In case the Police forces you to reveal your password, TrueCrypt provides and supports two kinds of "plausible deniability":

1. Hidden volumes. The principle is that a TrueCrypt volume is created within another TrueCrypt volume (within the free space on the volume). Even when the outer volume is mounted, it is impossible to prove whether there is a hidden volume within it or not, because free space on any TrueCrypt volume is always filled with random data when the volume is created* and no part of the (dismounted) hidden volume can be distinguished from random data. Note that TrueCrypt does not modify the file system (information about free space, etc.) within the outer volume in any way.

2. It is impossible to identify a TrueCrypt volume. Until decrypted, a TrueCrypt volume appears to consist of nothing more than random data (it does not contain any kind of "signature"). Therefore, it is impossible to prove that a file, a partition or a device is a TrueCrypt volume or that it has been encrypted.

FreeOTFE also offers similar features.

Off-the-Record (OTR) Messaging, offers true deniability for instant messaging.

Mr Tor
- Homepage:

rueCrypt's "aleatory" defence against RIPA

12.11.2007 18:32

TrueCrypt's "aleatory" defence against RIPA

TrueCrypt provides an "aleatory" defence against RIPA, and, indeed, against any similar legislation. This defence works because TrueCrypt makes encrypted material indistinguishable from pseudo-random data. And before the authorities can insist that you hand over an encryption key, they would first be obliged to prove to the satisfaction of a court that you were in possession of encrypted material. Depending on how TrueCrypt is set up it might be obvious that you have some pseudo-random data in an atypical location on your computer, and you might well be asked how it got there. Now, there are many computer processes that produce pseudo-random data, and you are not obliged by the legislation to account for the origins of every file on your computer that contains such data given the tens of thousands of files on the average PC this would be an impossible task. However, TrueCrypt can also provide you with an excellent and highly plausible reason as to why you possess such a file of pseudo-random data irrespective of where it is found.

Mr Tor
- Homepage:

Off-the-Record Messaging & deniable encryption

12.11.2007 18:33

Off-the-Record Messaging & deniable encryption

Off-the-Record Messaging, commonly referred to as OTR, is a cryptographic protocol that provides strong encryption for instant messaging conversations. OTR provides perfect forward secrecy and deniable encryption.

1. Perfect forward secrecy: Messages are only encrypted with temporary per-message AES keys, negotiated using the Diffie-Hellman key exchange protocol. The compromise of any long-lived cryptographic keys does not compromise any previous conversations, even if an attacker is in possession of ciphertexts.

2. Deniable authentication: Messages in a conversation do not have digital signatures, and after a conversation is complete, anyone is able to forge a message to appear to have come from one of the participants in the conversation, assuring that it is impossible to prove that a specific message came from a specific person.

Mr Tor
- Homepage:

Human Rights Act?

12.11.2007 19:17

Has this been tested in court yet? The Home Office website states that it doesn't contravene the Human Rights Act right to privacy it is used 'proportionately'. However that is always arguable.

More importantly, I cannot see how it is inline with Human Rights for someone to languish in prison because they have forgotten their encryption key. Would they have to prove that you knew the key?

Any lawyers in the building?

Also, with regards to plausible deniability which creates a volume which looks like random data, although they might be able to question how the file was produced, I doubt anyone would be committing a crime if their defence was that they did not know. And if it was, then there are plenty of programs available which "shred" spare space on a hard drive, which would effectively produce random data. Presuming that such a program shredded all file meta data too, a person could argue that they had wiped spare space on their hard drive (which as far as I ,know is not illegal - yet).


Plausible deniability is your friend

14.11.2007 09:38

Time for a quick plug for It's easy to use and plod can never tell if you've given out all your information. We love it and recommend it to all those living in a police state.

Basically you can use two keys rather than one. If you use both keys you get one set of files. If you only use one you get another set of files.

Now here's the interesting bit. Plod can't tell if you used one or two keys. So you tell him you used one and here's all your secret files. He has no way to prove that a second key exists and that there may be other files. You real secret files remain secure


Plenty of time to forget a password - check the stats

14.11.2007 18:28

As other people say, you are invited, you don't have to if you haven't been served with an order to give away your password.

In any case, six month is plenty of time to forget a password you do not use every day: Perhaps your best bet is to get some information about how many people forgot their credit/debit card PIN number in the last six month (I know I did), how many people forget their login and password at work when they're back from holidays, etc.

It is a standard practice to choose anti-mnemonic passwords so that there's just now way they can't be guessed, obviously those tend to be forgotten.


It came to me in a ...

15.11.2007 01:15

Sorry for being so thick.

Now I'm towing your line.

Thanks guys really..

Loving you,


no shit sherlock

Register readers arn't right wing suits

15.11.2007 02:31

I was amused to read that most register readers are right wing pro tech suits. The pro tech is correct, suits, possibly as most have full time jobs or are students.

Right wing. Definatly not. Read some of the comments about finger printing kids at school or ID cards or even this law and you will see most belive in civil liberties ect.

However the responce to this artical took me, and juding by the later comments others, by supprise. Apparently a group of people who advocate civil liberties for suspected terrorists are less likely to avdocate them for animal rights activists. Hmmm perhaps the animal rights activists should look at their tactics if there pissing off that many people.

This law is definatly very very bad and impractical. A really good sugestion is to say. "That encripted document is confidential documents I have backed up from work. Talk to their lawers." In my case a very large company would then give me legal backing and perhaps a slap on the wrist. They couldn't do more as they know what info I have access to.


Stand on principle

15.11.2007 09:05

You're never going to win by saying that you didn't use PGP, if PGP files are on your machine. Neither, is simply forgetting the passphrase going to help. Give them the private key, and you're screwed. IF you had not understood the technology, and accidentally WIPED (not deleted) your private key on the other hand, only keeping your public key, then you might stand a chance.

My advice is to stand on principle though. Challenge them on your right to privacy, your right to defend the privacy of those who trusted you, etc. Get the EFF and other privacy-/digital-rights -related organisations on-side. This law is ridiculous, and couldn't possibly be upheld, if enough attention and the right backing is brought to your side.

mail e-mail:

ARA gets a taste of her own medicine

15.11.2007 10:14

Oh what a shame, someone find out that life can be unpleasant. Bit like the people often targeted by ARAs that use violence or threats to force their message.

You know threats against people vital to the animal testing industry like erm News Agents, Cleaners and Nurseries. ( both of which were targeted by ARAs in the last few years)

This sounds like someone has been caught with compromising stuff on their PC and they are now bricking themselves over it. Sure its a civil liberties mine field but someone my bleeding heart has to put a bit of what this person has told us in check.

The police are her enemy and have stitched her up... please everyone come and help. Yeah I'm sure she is as white as the driven ( over) snow.

If ARAs operated in a peaceful manner would they have so much to fear from the plod?

( clue arson, explosives and beating up people with baseball bats are not considered peaceful)

Bets on how long it takes for Indy Media to show its normal color ( yellow) and censor this?

full of sympathy

PGP, Session keys, and we should be using encryption more anyway!

15.11.2007 13:06

PGP has a feature where you can retrieve the session key used for an individual message. Theoretically the police can give you the message they want decrypted, you get the session key and hand it back, then they can check that the key you've given them decrypts the message. This still is a bit of an invasion of privacy and still questionable but it's better than without this feature. Like a search warrant it should be mandated by the courts only.

One problem though. The police have her computer. If she was using encryption then is she able to do the session key stuff without that computer? If they let her borrow it back to do it how can she trust either the software or hardware on the machine not to have been tampered with to log her passphrase? If you're going to use this approach you need a copy of your password protected secret key and the software in a place the police don't have it so you can run it on a computer that you trust they have not tampered with.

I don't believe it should be expected that the police can ask for your secret key. This is the key to all messages you send and all signatures. The police can impersonate you. If digital signing becomes more important in society then this allows an unscrupulous police person the opportunity for identity theft. These session keys are a reluctant possibility as long as you can safely get them. I don't believe the police should have any right to ask for any more.

Some comments here, and comments elsewhere in the media suggest that people using encryption should be thought of as guilty. Only the guilty have something to hide. If we all used encryption routinely, all understood digital signatures, just how much better would the world be? Phishing would be a lot harder if messages from your bank were encrypted and signed. Do we send all messages on postcards or do we use opaque envelopes to wrap our mail? Why should encryption be seen as any worse?

Richard Corfield
mail e-mail: Richard dot Corfield at gmail dot com

Implausible denial

16.11.2007 01:02

Use a tool that offers "plausible" denial? That itself makes your denial implausible. Even when you have given the police everything, the tool will have created random, meaningless data so that all users' denials will be "plausible" - and the police will never believe that you have given them everything.


what did you do ..

16.11.2007 12:02

What did you do that you provoked the attention of plod. Have you threatened or engaged in violence against anyone. Apart from being charged under RIPA, are you facing any other charges?


Not a privacy issue, a criminal issue

16.11.2007 16:45

When I was growing up, my family, in particular my father, due to his job which had a component of animal research to it, helping to find cures to human diseases including cancer research, were the subject of unspeakable and constant harassment by 'animal rights' protesters like this female. My father's car was vandalised and set on fire, bricks were routinely thrown through our windows at home, and my younger brother, 7 at the time, had his arm broken in two places after a 'protester' thug kicked my mother to the ground as we were leaving the house on the way to school and she fell on top of him. She had to have surgery on her face for a broken jaw whilst my brother was absolutely terrified for years afterwards and has never really recovered. Eventually we moved to America and the abuse stopped, and we had a normal life finally. People like this are the absolute enemy of freedom and liberty and should be dealt with accordingly.

I'm afraid that I have very little sympathy for either this woman, the unbalanced people she hangs around with or her cause, I hope karma pays her back with lots of interest for the misery she has doled out to her fellow human beings and that she gets the maximum sentence. You can be ideologically opposed to something without being harassing and violent. Its a pity they no longer put people in stocks in this country and let other people pelt them with rotten vegetables! It would solve so many social ills...Either that or withold all the medical treatment from them which was developed from animal testing. I suspect that they wouldn't live very long. Why would the police be interested in your lousy poetry? They want to find evidence of your criminal activities so you can be prosecuted and found guilty. That's their job. The only reason for you not to give them the encryption key is because what you're hiding would increase your jail term, if found guilty, to higher than 2 years anyways...

james mitchell

Mr Mitchell

18.11.2007 00:29

Hundreds of thousands of people are dying with cancer as you read this, as you know.

Decades of useless research using the animal model to try and find a cure for cancer in human beings have proven futile and pointless in the battle against this disease.

One day I hope these so-called "researchers" (blind fools that waste lives, not save them) finally put two and two together and see that a mouse is not a human being. It really can't be that difficult to come to that obvious conclusion.

Paul Stokes

Without animal testing I would be dead

18.11.2007 23:17

So I don't have a huge amount of sympathy for ARP's cause when they start saying things like "One day I hope these so-called "researchers" (blind fools that waste lives, not save them) finally put two and two together and see that a mouse is not a human being. It really can't be that difficult to come to that obvious conclusion."

Obviously well researched and educated people like Paul Stokes know that the mouse is one of the closest, non primate, animal to humans when it comes to DNA and physiology. The pig is closer which is why we can have pig hearts transplanted to us. (yes the pig dies and we have to have lots of drugs). The mouse is used in genetic testing due to the rate of reproduction.

I can understand objections to cosmetic testing and the like but seriously how can you put the lives of animals before humans? Where does it end?

If humans suddenly stopped using animals for food it would be the death of billions of cows/ sheep, chickens ect. And if we became vegans all of a sudden the amount of animals that would have to die so the resources could be funnelled into cereals production would be staggering.

But the weirdest thing about ARP/ vegans/ vegetarians ect is that they are for the rights of animals but deny that they are an omnivore and so it is natural for the human animal to eat meat. We, as a society, eat more than we should but we need some.


PS I didn’t put why animal testing saved my life because I’ve noticed on this site that the facts don’t get in the way of a good argument. So I see no point in adding something that personal.

Andrew Nonomus

Sent the data abroad

17.06.2008 16:04

Why don't you send the keys to someplace safe like Switzerland. I have first-hand knowledge that the British Police are totally powerless in getting you to hand over keys kept by a third party. The Swiss Police are not able to force a some one to give up the keys unless it involves a very very major crime within Switzerland. I have watched a few Special Branch Det. boil with rage because of their inability to get keys and the Swiss Police reluctance to force a key hand-over.

Chris b
mail e-mail:

Animal research saves human lives

16.10.2008 09:56

Paul Stokes -

You really have no idea do you.

Lets try an example which affects someone I care about.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

They can do very very useful research using mice which have had the human dystrophin gene spliced in, the research has probably added years to my nephews life already.

I look at my nephew and then I look at a fucking mouse.
Which do you think I care more about?
Then I look at you.

You who wants to remove any slim hope of coming up with a cure before his illness kills him. The worst part is that he'll probably die just a few years before some of the most promising treatments come through trials, can you think of anything that certain organisations could have done, possibly to do with animal trials which could have slowed research into genetics by a few years?

This is why I hate you. I hate your organisation. You sentence innocent people to death for the sake of the fucking cute little rabbits and mice. You are responsible. Don't be a coward and pretend you have no responsibility for the consequences of your actions. but you will anyway. You will want to believe that it's not your fault because you only wanted to help the fucking little bunnies.

You make retarded sugestions like "only test on humans", well kids with Duchennes die before their 18th birthday, should we test on them? Shall we inject "test sample 33" into children to see if it has a useful effect rather than causing a heart attack or some such. Shall we disect the children rather than the mice to find out what effects potential treatments have had on heart muscle tissue?

Your organisation is evil and so are you.Rot in hell.

Animal research saves human lives
mail e-mail:

US Computer Scientist Sentenced to 13months

02.11.2009 21:48

JFL is a dozen year experienced computer scientist with his own small business in Silicon Valley. He plead guilty in Crown Court, after 3mns remand, to 10counts of RIPA s53 (non-compliance with the one s49 notice). The UK added two ficticious counts of ticking the wrong box on a passport form (CJA 1925 s36). JFL was sentenced for the RIPA offences to 14mns reduced to 9mns for his pleas, in total 13mns, and to serve half. CTC, the terrorism squad, had stopped its investigation into suspected explosives manufacture yet didn't tell the Judge. JFL had according to the forensic report touched a surface that was contaminated with legal explosives; his $10 model rocket. Any prisoner can be very easily Sectioned under the Mental Health Act. JFL is hoping for release soon now 8mns imprisoned for the Right to Silence. His official complaint has been uptaken by the MPS' Directorate of Professional Standards. RIPA could never be law in the US due to their 5th Ammendment and is now the law also in CA as Customs case law.

- Homepage: http://Coming soon...

The Register Publishes Article on my Story

24.11.2009 23:16

The lead story today and most commented:

UK Jails Schizophrenic for Refusal to Decrypt Files:
Terror Squad Arrest Over Model Rocket

PS The hack also writes for the Sunday Times where he had planned a multi-page human interest story. After weeks of preparation the editor refused to print on a person staying anonymous.

PPS My book on my experience entitled 'Bit' is due for publication in 2010.

- Homepage:

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