Friday, August 22, 2014

Dangerous U.K. law...

Dangerous U.K. law...  We need to do our best to make certain this doesn't happen here.  The law in question requires U.K. citizens to decrypt files upon demand from the police – or face 2 to 5 years in jail.  This article has a good discussion of the law's problems.

The first objection you might think of is this: what happens if you forget the key (or password)?  Answer: you go to jail.  Yikes!  That's pretty bad!

But it gets much, much worse, as the article explains.  The police just have to think you have an encrypted file.  If you're not familiar with encryption, you might not realize just how problematic that is.  You see, an encrypted file (which can have any name at all) just looks like random data.  There's no test you can apply to it that will unambiguously show that it's an encrypted file.  So any file containing random data could be an encrypted file – and in the U.K., the police can demand that you decrypt it.  If the file happens to be just random data, and not an encrypted file, of course there's no way that you could possibly decrypt it!  If you can't convince the police that it's innocent random data, you could find yourself sharing a cell with a murderer for several years...

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