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Man jailed for refusing to give police decryption key for computer

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 07 Oct 2010 20:46 User comments (23)

Man jailed for refusing to give police decryption key for computer A 19 year old man from Liverpool in England has been jailed for 16 weeks after refusing to give police a password required to access his computer. Oliver Drage was arrested in May last year by police "tackling child sexual exploitation," but police officers have not been able to break encryption to examine the contents of his hard drives.
The police require a 50 character key to decrypt the content. Drage was conviced of failing to disclose an encryption key in September, and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison on Monday at the Preston Crown Court. He was formally asked to disclose the required key but failed to do so, which is an offense under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

"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," said Det Sgt Neil Fowler, of Lancashire police.

"Computer systems are constantly advancing and the legislation used here was specifically brought in to deal with those who are using the internet to commit crime. 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."

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23 user comments

17.10.2010 22:07

Sucks to be a brit.

27.10.2010 22:34

Wow...this guy may be a sicko, but that is still really scary. I know now that I will never go to Britain, even for a vacation. Not giving passwords to police is a crime? That is self-incrimination...I'm not saying the guy would do any better here in the states or anything...I'm just saying that instead of publicly stripping the whole society of rights, the US police would just plant a Kilo of heroin on the guy, and forget about the hard drive.

37.10.2010 22:48

Originally posted by KillerBug:
Wow...this guy may be a sicko, but that is still really scary. I know now that I will never go to Britain, even for a vacation. Not giving passwords to police is a crime? That is self-incrimination...I'm not saying the guy would do any better here in the states or anything...I'm just saying that instead of publicly stripping the whole society of rights, the US police would just plant a Kilo of heroin on the guy, and forget about the hard drive.
Well if you had a safe in your house that police had reason to believe had copious amounts of narcotics in it, would it be wrong for police to ask for a combination or attempt to blow it open? Sure, I admit its a terrible comparison, but clearly police in this situation have convinced the court that Drage is withholding the key because he is hiding something very "specific". The media report i wrote from (BBC) didn't say why police arrested him but if it was, for example, as a result of an investigation into a child porn sharing circle that investigators infiltrated, then I think there is a case for a law requiring that you must not obstruct an investigation by not handing over a password. I assume that there is very specific criteria needed for police to be able to make an official request for something like that.

It's a strange one for sure. No easy answer. Will be interesting to see if police have enough evidence on him anyway to go ahead with an initial charge for whatever they caught him doing.

47.10.2010 23:46

just hook his hd to another pc & run a data recovery program as i've done that a few times when customer's hd was password protected, worked everytime.

57.10.2010 23:48

Mind you this guy is 19. "Child pornography" could be anything from pictures of his 17 year old girlfriend to the worst filth you can possibly imagine. The fact that they're being vague on the details makes me wonder what exactly they suspect

Basically being forced to convict yourself of anything is a load of crap and no matter what I applaud his bravery. Pretty much anywhere else in the free world this kind of non-sense would not stand and he'd be out on bail until they could make an actual case.

Originally posted by ddp:
just hook his hd to another pc & run a data recovery program as i've done that a few times when customer's hd was password protected, worked everytime.
I'm sorry but you're confusing password protected data with encryption which is hilarious at your expense. I'd love to see your data recovery software crack real encryption..
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 07 Oct 2010 @ 23:51

68.10.2010 0:18

This is given that he DOES have cp. I'm willing to bet the police had very little to no evidence and are using cp as a cover...

78.10.2010 2:51

Originally posted by Dela:
Originally posted by KillerBug:
Wow...this guy may be a sicko, but that is still really scary. I know now that I will never go to Britain, even for a vacation. Not giving passwords to police is a crime? That is self-incrimination...I'm not saying the guy would do any better here in the states or anything...I'm just saying that instead of publicly stripping the whole society of rights, the US police would just plant a Kilo of heroin on the guy, and forget about the hard drive.
Well if you had a safe in your house that police had reason to believe had copious amounts of narcotics in it, would it be wrong for police to ask for a combination or attempt to blow it open? Sure, I admit its a terrible comparison, but clearly police in this situation have convinced the court that Drage is withholding the key because he is hiding something very "specific". The media report i wrote from (BBC) didn't say why police arrested him but if it was, for example, as a result of an investigation into a child porn sharing circle that investigators infiltrated, then I think there is a case for a law requiring that you must not obstruct an investigation by not handing over a password. I assume that there is very specific criteria needed for police to be able to make an official request for something like that.

It's a strange one for sure. No easy answer. Will be interesting to see if police have enough evidence on him anyway to go ahead with an initial charge for whatever they caught him doing.
I doubt it needs to be very specific...if they had any evidence, then they would be using that as the charge. Instead, they charge him for desiring privacy. Law works in black and white (you are either guilty or not guilty, and you can only be both if there is more than one charge)...once there is a precedent, that is it. It does not matter if the person is accused of having child porn, pirate software, or the truth about an official government lie...anyone is now required to give their passwords to the government, with no evidence of a crime.

88.10.2010 3:35

Originally posted by ddp:
just hook his hd to another pc & run a data recovery program as i've done that a few times when customer's hd was password protected, worked everytime.
if the police can't do it then i would guess he built something himself.

The one computer that can not be hacked in the world is a OS built from nothing with that being the sole unique copy.

Good on him for locking down his computer that well no one can get in hahaha.

98.10.2010 3:43

Originally posted by Zealousi:
Originally posted by ddp:
just hook his hd to another pc & run a data recovery program as i've done that a few times when customer's hd was password protected, worked everytime.
if the police can't do it then i would guess he built something himself.

The one computer that can not be hacked in the world is a OS built from nothing with that being the sole unique copy.

Good on him for locking down his computer that well no one can get in hahaha.
No it just means he's using heavy encryption like most sane people these days.
Some of you people really should research things before replying with a bunch of jibberish like this.

108.10.2010 3:48

Well i still stick by he has built his own encryption from scratch because any public key would make it breakable, encryption is there to slow you down not stop you. Some of the best encryption known to man have been broken so either way that 50 key is just a matter of time.

118.10.2010 8:29

orphos crack will supply them with all the pass words on the unit and it boots from cd in linux great program passwords are dumb retnail scan is the way of the future maybe the cops in britain need some hackers on the payroll and this thing about not giving up a password that alows them into your system might fall under interfearing with an ongoing investagation or at least happering it ... but hey would a murderer tell you where the body is.. ( what an easy job being a cop would be) they have limited guns and they are on an island how hard is their job really let them come to the states and walk in the Bronks or Harllem and see how the real world is....

128.10.2010 9:41

Lots of comments supporting this guy.
Hmmmmm.

I wonder what the verdict would be if it was pics of your kids he had on his PC?

The fact is the guy has recourse to law, he has the right to defend himself for any charges put and he has the right to legal counsel.
In the UK he also has inviolable Human Rights and recourse all the way through the British legal system and all the way to the European Courts.

The idea that citizens here are helpless before the law is simply not true.

The Police cannot simply demand he reveal the contents to his PC without good cause (either shown to a judge beforehand or later....if they do not have reasonable & credible cause then their case collapses in court, which is much worse for them & creates all sorts of trouble & bad publicity).
People playing guessing games saying they imagine the cops don't have much evidence is just silly.

The whole thing is about the balance between the conflicting rights involved.
The individual's right to privacy and the rest of us in society as individuals having rights to security and living our lives in some sort of normality.

Posing and making blanket comments that only see & support 100% of the 1 side in this is just pointless and silly.

138.10.2010 23:35

Originally posted by Interestx:
Lots of comments supporting this guy.
Hmmmmm.

I wonder what the verdict would be if it was pics of your kids he had on his PC?

The fact is the guy has recourse to law, he has the right to defend himself for any charges put and he has the right to legal counsel.
In the UK he also has inviolable Human Rights and recourse all the way through the British legal system and all the way to the European Courts.

The idea that citizens here are helpless before the law is simply not true.

The Police cannot simply demand he reveal the contents to his PC without good cause (either shown to a judge beforehand or later....if they do not have reasonable & credible cause then their case collapses in court, which is much worse for them & creates all sorts of trouble & bad publicity).
People playing guessing games saying they imagine the cops don't have much evidence is just silly.

The whole thing is about the balance between the conflicting rights involved.
The individual's right to privacy and the rest of us in society as individuals having rights to security and living our lives in some sort of normality.

Posing and making blanket comments that only see & support 100% of the 1 side in this is just pointless and silly.
Just to be clear, I do not support him because of his alleged crime, but because his rights have been violated. Did he rape children? Possibly. Did the government rape him? Certainly.

149.10.2010 3:08

Originally posted by KillerBug:

Just to be clear, I do not support him because of his alleged crime, but because his rights have been violated. Did he rape children? Possibly. Did the government rape him? Certainly.
I was thinking also that way.. kinda strange government..
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 09 Oct 2010 @ 3:10

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159.10.2010 3:50

We have passed the tipping point. If you can understand what I mean, you need not hear any more. If not, then you will just have to be surprised when it happens.

169.10.2010 10:54

Originally posted by alfa206:
Originally posted by KillerBug:

Just to be clear, I do not support him because of his alleged crime, but because his rights have been violated. Did he rape children? Possibly. Did the government rape him? Certainly.
I was thinking also that way.. kinda strange government..
I agree with that too.

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179.10.2010 15:55

Originally posted by KillerBug:
We have passed the tipping point. If you can understand what I mean, you need not hear any more. If not, then you will just have to be surprised when it happens.
I've read that book lol.

1811.10.2010 5:53

If hes doing nothing wrong hes got nothing to hide.If hes doing something wrong wether child porn or software piracy or a few copied movies/songs then by giving the passwords hes incriminating himself.police shouldnt have the right to anyones personal passwords but if someones commiting a crime they should have the power to stop it.sometimes you gotta bend/break the law to catch a criminal.if i was the cop i'd be putting a gun to the guys head and demanding the password.


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1916.10.2010 17:05

So... 16 weeks in jail, then what? He still doesn't give out his password. What then? 16 more weeks? Or that's that and he goes free? If he's truly guilty of something, 4 months in jail is probably better than the punishment sent down for showing them what's on his hard drive.

2016.10.2010 23:54

"People playing guessing games saying they imagine the cops don't have much evidence is just silly."

Of course, it's "silly" to you since you clearly trust the cops implicitly. From what I've read of this, they have nothing concrete enough to charge him with, so they charge him with failing to help them find something concrete to charge him with.

One of the biggest differences between the UK and the US is that the UK is perfectly willing to abridge free speech, as well as require self-incrimination in it's ongoing effort to assume law enforcement would NEVER act overzealously, would never knowingly violate a citizen's civil liberties, and that if some bloke has been charged, then by God he must be guilty.

Another genius: "If hes doing nothing wrong hes got nothing to hide." <-- these words speak volumes about your opinion of civil rights. Since law enforcement has provided "probable cause" to a court, you assume that they are correct, their information is sound, and the charged is guilty. Conveniently without need for a trial, even! It is nice that the UK allows the accused their day in court to eventually prove their innocence. But in the US, all accused are innocent and it is the government that must prove guilt. It's a matter of priorities. (Govt > Citizen) or (Govt < Citizen).

This guy isn't even charged with child porn. The cops assume he's guilty so they want to go fishing on his hard drive to prove it. If they had anything dispositive, they would charge him with an actual crime. He may very well be guilty. But he may also be innocent. The fact that they are trying to charge him with a particularly horrific crime shouldn't make it easier to deprive him of life or liberty. In fact, it should require that much more due diligence on the part of law enforcement to be certain that the accused is truly guilty. What does he do if it comes out that it was a mistake? Can he get his reputation back? The accused should never be required, against his will, to assist the government in trying to pin anything whatsoever on him. That is their job, not his. If they cannot find him guilty without the contents of his hard drive, then they need to do more detective work. If he is a child pornographer, and if the cops have legitimate "probable cause," then there is undoubtedly more information out there. Get cracking! US detectives aren't allowed the luxury of compelling self-incrimination. Yet they somehow get by. Imagine!

2118.10.2010 12:35

Perhaps its just as well you are not then, as a citizen of this once fine island nation, and having a few years under my belt, it seems the authorities in the UK are using the child porn / terrorist / drug dealer card to convince the courts to let them do pretty much what they want, peoples private data is already available to virtually any minor council official, there have been cases in the UK of these civil servants tracking down people for littering and minor infringements through data files as for the arguments that if you`ve done nothing wrong you`ve nothing to hide, well just about every totalitarian regime in history as trotted out that old chestnut.

2227.1.2011 11:51

I'll give them MY passwords right after they give me THEIRS, to their government systems. Seems fair to me, and after all, none of us "have anything to hide", so there ought not to be a problem there, right?

Right?

2328.1.2011 0:46

Originally posted by Ninurta:
I'll give them MY passwords right after they give me THEIRS, to their government systems. Seems fair to me, and after all, none of us "have anything to hide", so there ought not to be a problem there, right?

Right?
the problem with that is the government does has something to hide.if you had access to all governemnt computers you'd have everyones car rego details,income details,medical details,criminal records.Some stuff is confidential thats none of anyones business.If i went for a job and didnt get it beause i had criminal charges in the past (which all got dismissed in a court of law) it woudn't be fair.

btw it doesnt matter which country your in you can be arrested,charged and locked up before being proven innocent.its guilty before innocent in the eyes of the law.

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