Monday, June 12, 2006

Punishing silence

It seems that the Home Office has been assiduously briefing The Times about their plans to enable powers to compel the production of decryption keys. I suspect the leader writer(s) in question will not be receiving a more balanced picture from anyone else…

Punishing silence is a dangerous concept and should be rejected in all but severe cases. But the consultation paper circulated by the Home Office sets out the hurdles, designed to protect the innocent, which prosecutors would have to jump. For a suspect to be charged and face a prison term of more than two years for failing to unlock computer files, he would have to be a convicted paedophile; his computer would have to contain indecent pictures of children; or there would have to be evidence that he had communicated the encrypted information to someone else. The court would have to be satisfied that the encrypted data was likely to contain illegal images of children. The battle against paedophiles, like that against money-launderers, has been made more complicated by the internet. It is reasonable that law enforcement acquires stronger powers to fight back.

Queenstown police are being given similar powers in Australia (thanks, Dave!)

4 comments:

s.k.namanny said...

Punishing Silence could be the name of a moody 90's band.
Or would we have to go all the way back to the 80's before a name like that could fly?

Ibsen was right: "Who tells a better tale than any of us? Silence does."

skn

Watching Them, Watching Us said...

"I suspect the leader writer(s) in question will not be receiving a more balanced picture from anyone else…"

Then it is up to us to make sure that the readers of The Times etc. do get a more balanced view.

Time for another "Scrambling for Safety" event ?

Your comments on the RIPA Part III Consultation and Draft Code of practice documents at the RIPA Part III consultation blog, would be welcome.

Anonymous said...

Do not make the mistake of thinking this is anything other than incidentally to do with kiddie p0rn or terrorism: those are little more than useful crimes-du-jour for implenting policy, but the real driver behind this is taxation.

Anonymous said...

Come come, Dr. Brown. Isn't this your very own area of expertise? Any danger of a little hypothetical guidance here? You know, "if a journalist was to go to China, or some other increasingly totalitarian country where the executive branch is so at odds with the people that it feels the need to spy on them as they walk down the street and make sure it knows what they read and write, if a journalist was to find himself in such a country and wanted to make sure that he couldn't be forced into revealing his notes and sources in the face of some trumped up charge - saying the word 'nie' during a speech by a foreign secretary perhaps, or possession of white male DNA in a public place - they probably ought to use do XX and YY and use AA Windows or BB for Linux.