A British teenager has been jailed for four months for refusing to disclose his encryption password to police.
Oliver Drage, 19, of Freckleton in Lancashire, was arrested in May 2009 by a Blackpool police squad investigating child sexual exploitation. Police were unable to decrypt his computer, however, due to a 50-character password that Drage, who works in a fast food shop, refuses to disclose.
“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,” Det Sgt Neil Fowler of Lancashire Police told the Press Association.
“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.”
Last month, Drage was found guilty of failing to disclose an encryption key, an offence covered by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). He was sentenced to 16 weeks in a Young Offenders Institution at Preston Crown Court.
"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,” said Fowler.
The police and public sector bodies have been making increasing use of powers granted under RIPA to investigate online activity and mobile traffic. Discussions on wider powers forcing companies to retain all data logs by the last government appear to have been put on hold by the coalition.
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