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UK jails schizophrenic for refusal to decrypt files

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Again he maintained silence. Police then warned him they would seek a section 49 notice under RIPA Part III, which gives a suspect a time limit to supply encryption keys or make target data intelligible. Failure to comply is an offence under section 53 of the same Part of the Act and carries a sentence of up to two years imprisonment, and up to five years imprisonment in an investigation concerning national security.

Following the warning he was bailed again, to reappear on 4 February.

GCHQ, home of NTAC

JFL did not attend the bail date. Instead he moved to Southampton, living in a series of temporary homes. He says he felt harassed by authority and helpless against police he believed were determined to pin a crime on him.

His disappearance led to a raid on 7 March this year. Officers bearing sub-machine guns broke down the door of JFL's flat. He rang local police before realising CTC had come for him.

At the local Fareham police station he was served with the section 49 notice. Signed by CTC's Superintendent Bell, it said: "I hereby require you to disclose a key or any supporting evidence to make the information intelligible."

JFL maintained his silence throughout the one hour time limit imposed by the notice. He was charged with ten offences under section 53 of RIPA Part III, reflecting the multiple passphrases needed to decrypt his various implementations of PGP Whole Disk Encryption and PGP containers.

The list had been compiled by the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC), part of the intelligence agency GCHQ, which attempts to decipher encrypted files for intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

In his final police interview, CTC officers suggested JFL's refusal to decrypt the files or give them his keys would lead to suspicion he was a terrorist or paedophile.

"There could be child pornography, there could be bomb-making recipes," said one detective.

"Unless you tell us we're never gonna know... What is anybody gonna think?"

JFL says he maintained his silence because of "the principle - as simple as that".

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