Computing student jailed after failing to hand over crypto keys


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By John Leyden, 8 Jul 2014
 
+Comment A computer science student accused of hacking offences has been jailed for six months for failing to hand over his encryption passwords, which he had been urged to do in "the interests of national security".
Christopher Wilson, 22, of Mitford Close, Washington, Tyne and Wear, was jailed for refusing to hand over his computer passwords, a move that frustrated an investigation into claims he launched an attack on a police website.
 Wilson, who has Asperger's Syndrome, was suspected of "trolling" the Northumbria Police as well as attempting to break into the Serious Organised Crime Agency's website.
 
The Register/ full read here/ http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/07/08/christopher_wilson_students_refusal_to_give_up_crypto_keys_jail_sentence_ripa/

4 replies

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It's interesting to see the difference in protections on self-incrimination in UK vs US.  In the US I'm not sure that he'd be able to be compelled to give up a password.
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@nic wrote:
It's interesting to see the difference in protections on self-incrimination in UK vs US.  In the US I'm not sure that he'd be able to be compelled to give up a password.

good point nic what is a bit more interesting within the article it stated this person was in violatioin of the following:
Refusal to hand over crypto keys is a violation of section 49 of RIPA, the UK's sometimes controversial wiretapping law.
 
Now................what is the position here in the U.S.??
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@Antus67 wrote:

@nic wrote:
It's interesting to see the difference in protections on self-incrimination in UK vs US.  In the US I'm not sure that he'd be able to be compelled to give up a password.

good point nic what is a bit more interesting within the article it stated this person was in violatioin of the following:
Refusal to hand over crypto keys is a violation of section 49 of RIPA, the UK's sometimes controversial wiretapping law.
 
Now................what is the position here in the U.S.??

The fifth amendment is absolute protection against incriminating oneself, and refusal to answer cannot be taken as evidence of guilt, like it can be in the UK.  Based on that, the argument is that giving up passwords is a form of self incrimination and therefore cannot be compelled.  There is still some debate however, as there are some people who argue that a password is like a key, and you can be compelled to hand over a physical key to a safe that might contain evidence of your guilt.
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@nic wrote:

@Antus67 wrote:

@nic wrote:
It's interesting to see the difference in protections on self-incrimination in UK vs US.  In the US I'm not sure that he'd be able to be compelled to give up a password.

good point nic what is a bit more interesting within the article it stated this person was in violatioin of the following:
Refusal to hand over crypto keys is a violation of section 49 of RIPA, the UK's sometimes controversial wiretapping law.
 
Now................what is the position here in the U.S.??

The fifth amendment is absolute protection against incriminating oneself, and refusal to answer cannot be taken as evidence of guilt, like it can be in the UK.  Based on that, the argument is that giving up passwords is a form of self incrimination and therefore cannot be compelled.  There is still some debate however, as there are some people who argue that a password is like a key, and you can be compelled to hand over a physical key to a safe that might contain evidence of your guilt.

And in the USA, if the person is suspected of spying, it is a different ball game, specially with terrorism being so prevelant. Homeland Security I think can compell the person to hand it over.
 
If the key is a password, not something physical, the person can conveniently forget it. In this case, the guy has Aspergers and in the USA,  IMHO, officials have more of an understanding of the condition and would not be so quick to jail him.

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