Feeds

Government wants encryption key offence in force

Return of the RIPA?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The government plans to bring into force a controversial power that can require the disclosure of an encryption key on pain of five years' imprisonment. The power has lain dormant for six years; but its time has come, Home Office Minister Liam Byrne said.

In 2000, government passed the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, better known as RIPA. Part 3 of RIPA has never been brought into force. It includes a power which allows certain authorities to force the disclosure of information that is stored in an encrypted form and it can force the disclosure of the encryption key itself. Section 53 of RIPA makes failing to comply an offence.

"The use of encryption is...proliferating," Byrne told the House of Commons last Wednesday. "Encryption products are more widely available and are integrated as security features in standard operating systems, so the Government has concluded that it is now right to implement the provisions of part 3 of RIPA, including section 53, which is not presently in force."

Parliamentary scrutiny is not required to bring part 3 into force. But Byrne said government will publish for consultation a draft statutory code of practice for the investigation of protected electronic data and the exercise of powers in part 3.

Under RIPA, the maximum sentence for a breach of section 53 was two years' imprisonment. However, the legislation was amended by the Terrorism Act 2006 such that any "national security case" can be punished with a maximum sentence of five years.

OUT-LAW.COM editor Struan Robertson, also a senior associate with Pinsent Masons, said: "When it was passed, RIPA evoked fears that innocent people would be sent to jail for forgetting their password. The Home Office will have a tough job addressing the renewal of these fears in its code of practice."

A Home Office spokesman told OUT-LAW that the consultation would be published soon. According to ZD Net UK, amendments may be made to part 3 after the consultation has been completed.

See:

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?