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Teenager jailed for refusing to reveal encryption keys

laptop gavel

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 6 Oct 2010 at 09:05

A teenager has been given a 16-week prison sentence in a Young Offenders Institution for refusing to give up the encryption key for his computer.

Oliver Drage, 19, was originally arrested in May last year and a spokesperson for Lancashire Constabulary told PC Pro that Drage was questioned “on suspicion of possessing indecent child images”.

When police tried to investigate Drage's computer, they found it protected by a 50-character password, which officers were unable to crack.

Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, Part III, it is an offence to withhold passwords and the teenager was convicted last month of failing to disclose his key.

The legislation used here was specifically brought in to deal with those who are using the internet to commit crime

Lancashire police officials said the decision to sentence Drage reflected how seriously the courts took these situations, although under the law Drage could have been sentenced to up to two years.

“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,” said detective sergeant Neil Fowler of Blackpool Police.

“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.

“It sends a robust message out to those intent on trying to mask their on-line criminal activities that they will be taken before the courts with the ultimate sanction, as in this case, being a custodial sentence.”

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User comments

Two things...

... soring to mind. Firstly, one assumes that Drage decided that 16 weeks is a far softer sentence than would be handed to him if the contents of his hard drive were examined; and secondly, how do they know it is a 50 character password? Do they mean a 56-bit key?

By The_Scrote on 6 Oct 2010

And what sentence might he have received if found guilty of possessing indecent child images? Longer than 16 weeks I would guess?

By randomtoast on 6 Oct 2010

Silly question but...

...if they haven't cracked it, how do they know it's a 50 character password?

By PaulOckenden on 6 Oct 2010

The RIP act is fundamentally flawed. What's the point of using encryption if the police can demand you provide them with the password on demand?

What next? Snooping on shopping habits? Credit card bills?

Encryption runs both ways - there could have been bank details or perhaps personal photographs between consenting adults he didn't want the police to have access to. The police might take it seriously but I can't see them allowing me access to my own encrypted data - the stuff I pay them to store with as much ease.

By bubbles16 on 6 Oct 2010

Is this the first time a case like this has come up? I'm suprised that this isn't a common issue for the CPS.

By WhiskyFudge on 6 Oct 2010

I can see what bubbles16 is getting at, but the police won't be interested in anything except material that relates to the case he's being charged with. I.e. they are interested in the possible storage of child abuse images, but if there is evidence of scat or some other unsavoury material, the police won't gaf as it's nothing to do with the case. There's loads of stuff I wouldn't 'want' the police to see on my PC, but if charged with child abuse offences, I'd happily disclose my password to prove my innocence. In the absence of such disclosure, I would argue that the police are within their rights to assume guilt.

In other words, this chap should be charged and sentenced with the offence of possessing child abuse images IMO.

By GillsMan7 on 6 Oct 2010

The Megamale

It's a tough one surely, and it's going to be a law that is very hard to implement.

Firstly it goes against the law that protects individuals from self-incrimination. Secondly it's going to be very hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the individual didn't genuinely forget their password.

In this case, the only crime you can go after is the refusal to give out the password. That's it.

And after all, what led to the suspicions? Can't that be used as evidence (ip logs, etc...)?

By TheMegamale on 6 Oct 2010

British Justice.....love it

So he got 4 months for not giving the encryption keys. A thug convicted of assault gets less than that. I'm not condoning what he has done and what he is accused of but it again highlights the stupidity of our justice system

By everton2004 on 6 Oct 2010

"I'd happily disclose my password to prove my innocence. In the absence of such disclosure, I would argue that the police are within their rights to assume guilt."

Well I wouldn't. You don't need to prove yourself innocent. It is up to them to prove you guilty and not rely on self-incrimination.

The RIPA is basically the authorities getting narked that they can't just come blundering in and nosy round your data anymore. Its ridiculous. Anyone guilty of anything serious is bound to withold the password and get at most 2 years for doing so rather than decades or whatever it may be.

By omnisvalidus on 6 Oct 2010

Whether this was the easier sentence for the defendant to serve depends on the seriousness of the alleged indecent photographs. A lot of offences for indecent photographs do not receive a custodial sentence and given he is a youth I would put his chances of getting a custodial sentence at low to medium unless the photographs were very serious or there were other aggravating factors (such as there being a very large number or the victims being known to him etc.).

GillsMan7 is wrong both in law and in principle in stating that the defendant should be charged and sentenced on the assumption the images were indecent because it is for the prosecution to prove his guilt if he is maintaining innocence. He has no legal obligation to help them do that. In the absence of any evidence of indecent photographs he can only be charged with the lesser, RIPA 2000, offence for which he has been tried (or admitted guilt) and sentenced. After serving his sentence, that is the end of the matter unless or until the police can crack his encryption key or password (whichever it is that they are missing). If found guilty of the obviously more serious indecent photographs offence, not only would he have to serve a custodial or community sentence he would also have to sign on to the sex offenders register for a period likely to last several years and he would be barred from certain jobs, for life in some cases. The custody element of his RIPA sentence will last 8 weeks at most then he'll do the remaining period out on licence. Then that's it.

By ddoyley on 6 Oct 2010

Erm, this case is similar to drink driving. You are not legally required to submit to a breathalizer test (or other types of test) if the police request one but obviously you will be charged with drink driving if you refuse to give a test. On that basis I don't see anything wrong with what the police or other authorities have done here.

By RSKG2 on 6 Oct 2010

@ ddoyley and others

I see this as the equivalent of refusing police entry to your house with a valid search warrant - pohysically preventing police officers from carrying out a search which is legally permitted via a warrant is a serious offence and can (and has) been used as indication of guilt.

It is impossible to impregnably barricade your home, but it is possible to effectively make your computer off-limits without the password - the reason why that element of the RIPA exists.

Yes, it's a grey area, yes the comparison is not perfect between a computer and your home - but you need to start somewhere and I fully support this move; otherwise, in order to protect against a very much theoretical "Big Brother" universe where the police come knocking on your door once a week to have a snoop through your bins, we end up with a real world (which we actually live in and experience) whereby all types of criminals are almost untouchable as long as they keep all the info on a computer behind a strong password.

I can't help but wonder if everyone so against this would support banks turning round and saying "Sorry your card got cloned and you lost all your money, but the info is behind a strong password and the bad man won't give it to us".

By bioreit on 6 Oct 2010

What do you propose Everton2004? Harsher sentencing for offences such as assault or more lenient sentencing for offences like the RIPA 2000 one? If it's the former, I can tell you that the current prison population would be nothing compared to what it would be under harsher sentencing for offences against the person which are far more common than RIPA offences and the like.

You're right, the law is an ass but what's the alternative?

By ddoyley on 6 Oct 2010

@bioriet

Which move do you 'fully support'? If it's him being convicted of the RIPA 2000 offence, I agree totally as that's how the law stands and whether or not we disagree with that law is irrelevant for the purposes of this case.

If, however, you 'fully support' him NOT disclosing his password to the police when they have reasonable grounds to investigate, I disagree with you. To be clear, I believe he should give them what they need but they cannot force him, they can only punish him for not doing so and that's what they've done.

By ddoyley on 6 Oct 2010

@RSKG2

You are required to submit to a drink drive test if an police officer has reasonable grounds to request one. To fail to do so without good cause is a separate offence which is punishable to the same extent as if you had committed a high level drink drive offence. If the law stated that to be suspected of indecent photograph offences and not provide access to your hard drive was punishable to the same extent as if you did, then you would be right. However, it does not.

This defendant has been convicted for a very different offence to the one he was originally suspected of, just brought about by his refusal to co-operate with the investigation for the alleged offence.

By ddoyley on 6 Oct 2010

A few people disagreed with my comments and, in doing so, made some valid comments of their own.

Just to clarify, I made my comments on the (admittedly rather large) assumption that there was already decent evidence to suggest that he DID have child abuse images on his PC.

If the plod came round asking to see my computer because they suspected me of possessing child abuse images, I'd first ask what evidence they had to support that view. If they had none, I would feel within my rights to refuse them access to my PC. If they had some evidence (IP logs, message forum postings or whatever), then I'd feel happy to turn over my PC.

Just wanted to clarify my POV.

By GillsMan7 on 6 Oct 2010

If the Police come round to look at your computer and have a warrant, you have no right to offer them conditional access that depends on anything you decide.

In this case one assumes that when he gets out of clink the teenager will still have to provide them with the password or server yet another term - only longer - in a YOI.

He's clearly guilty of something - terrorism? Stealing? Spamming? Hacking? Child Abuse? If innocent, why be so obstructive?

By SwissMac on 6 Oct 2010

The thing that comes to mind about this case is that its sends out the wrong message in that if you do something bad on the computer and you encrypt sad bad thing and the the police/CPS do not have enough evidence to convict you without looking at the contents of your computer then its far better to risk a 2 year sentence under RIPA (and note that any custodial sentence is "spent" after 4 years since the maximum sentence is 2 years) than be tried for the actual crime. I know which I'd rather do.

So, unless new evidence comes up to prove the teenager commited the original crime, he'll do his 16 weeks, have a criminal record for 4 years and that'll be it. Considering what he could have been facing that's quite a light sentence even if he was given 2 years.

By kenned25 on 6 Oct 2010

"I'll just talk some sense into these officers"

"I'd happily disclose my password to prove my innocence. In the absence of such disclosure, I would argue that the police are within their rights to assume guilt."

No, a lot of people make this mistake about the police. If the police think that you're involved in child abuse just putting your password into a computer won't make them go away. They'll assume you stashed the evidence somewhere else. You're trying to prove a negative Eventually even you will get tired of showing them everything about your life to "prove your innocence".

The very best possible outcome of talking to the police is that you don't get arrested. There's no benefit in talking to the police to "clear your name".

You're not being obstructive. You're defending yourself.

By steviesteveo on 6 Oct 2010

ding_jimmy

This is by no means guaranteed to be 100% accurate, but I was talking to a colleague in the pub over lunch about this earlier who's been in the police and studied law. Apparently, in order to get a warrant to access your home and attempt to look at your computer, the police would need to prove that they had reasonable suspicion you have caused the crime in the first place. Without the warrant, they wouldn't be allowed to enter your home or look at your computer without your permission. In this case they must have had a tip-off of some kind and/or seen logs from the ISP, but these on their own aren't enough for a conviction.

What constitutes 'reasonable suspicion' depends on the offence, and in many cases is written into the applicable law/act/paper/whatever. Interestingly though in some situations, they can apply the principle of reverse burden of proof. This basically meaning that they only need to have reasonable suspicion you caused the offence to charge you and you have to prove your innocence. This normally applies to minor offences such as lack of car-insurance; if the car your driving isn't on the insurance database its up to you to prove it wrong!

Anyway, just thought that might be interesting!

By ding_jimmy on 6 Oct 2010

@ding_jimmy

To obtain a warrant, the police need prove nothing at all. They only have to convince a judge or magistrate that they have reasonable suspicions and this is often by way of little more than what would at trial be considered hearsay. If (and we shouldn't assume that one was issued) a warrant was used to gain access to his home and computer, the judge or magistrates were probably only told that 'there was evidence' that the crimes were committed/being committed.

By ddoyley on 6 Oct 2010

@kenned25

I could be wrong but I very much think that he would have to commit a further RIPA 2000 offence to be charged again. I would suspect that his defence would argue that a second charge was actually just a extension of the first, for which he has been punished and therefore cannot be punished again. I've not read RIPA 2000 in full though so I could be wrong.

By ddoyley on 6 Oct 2010

@GillsMan7

Thanks for that. I don't think any of us would condone such an offence nor be in any way supportive of anyone who has committed it so didn't think you were either. However, SwissMac is right, once the police have a warrant, you can't prevent them access to your property and they can use force if necessary. It's just in this case there is no appropriate force great enough for them to break his password/encryption key but they will keep trying.

By ddoyley on 6 Oct 2010

@ ddoyley

Sorry! Thought my stance was made clear - I fully support the custodial sentence being imposed on this man, as refusal to comply with the RIPA in this instance is, as I see it, equivalent to physicallly preventing the police from executing a search warrant on your property.

By bioreit on 6 Oct 2010

Ok but I have privileged information on my PC, communications between me and my Solicitor and also with my Doctor.
Should I hand over my HDD if requested?

Sometimes I need to visit a known or suspected dangerous site (as a result of examining index.dat records to determine where an infection has come from) in which case I use a live Linux CD and save files to a usb stick. Examining my computer would not reveal any trace of that.

By stokegabriel on 6 Oct 2010

I have read the various arguments, but how many of you have actually been on receiving end of the police investigation, I have.

I was falsely accused of downloading Child Pornography, apart from being devastated by the police informing me why they were demanding all my PC's., Phones, personal cd's/dvd’s etc., I willing cooperated with them, as I knew I was innocent.

Unfortunately, the press found out and obviously what is read in press must be true – no smoke without fire.

The resultant publicity led to, breakdown of my marriage, loss of my family, loss my job, ostracised by the community, loss of my house, my health deteriorated and I was near suicidal with depression.

Over a year later, I was informed there was no case, and they considered "I was falsely accused"!

However, despite no action taken, there is a record of the allegation lodged against my name on CRB database.

Would I help police again if ever I was placed in same situation - never!

If they suspect anything, you have no hope - so maybe the lad did or did not have child pornography, but I would do the same in his shoes.

By Passing_Through on 6 Oct 2010

@Passing_Through

It's situations like yours that show that this not as cut and dried as some would have it. 'If you've nothing to hide, why not co-operate?' is a nonsense when you consider cases such as yours. I also know how the police can get it wrong though not from anything like the same bitter, personal experience as you. Those who say (like some have on here) 'he's obviously guilty of something' should consider your story and be thankful that it wasn't them falsely accused. Only those with no experience of how clumsy and disfunctional the criminal justice system actually is can make such trite comments.

By ddoyley on 6 Oct 2010

Kurious

Why I wonder haven't the police asked that young man whom the Yanks want to jail for cracking their code; to help them crack this one?????

By boyartuk on 6 Oct 2010

Nothing to Hide?

There could be many reasons why this young man wants to keep the contents of his computer secret. If he's under age, he might need his parents present for an interview and search and maybe a police investigation would reveal things he would rather his parents didn't know even if they were not illegal (e.g. gay porn for example).

I know from experience of the police that their whole approach to evidence gathering is to form an opinion of guilt in relation to the suspect and go dig out all the material they can to support that view whilst casually discarding anything that supports innocence.

My advice to everyone is keep it all on a USB thumb drive, they won't be able to search it if they don't know you have it, I don't keep any personal info on my computer

By pauld1024 on 6 Oct 2010

@Kurious & @pauld1024

@Kurious: Because this is the real world, not Spooks.

@pauld1024: What about backups?

By ddoyley on 6 Oct 2010

@pauld1024 && @Passing_Through

@pauld1024

From a digital forensic point of view you would be able to see all of attached devices connect and there are loads of other traces around the hard drive no matter if you store it on a usb or not plus the idea is to do a full search of the house if suspected and there is plenty of resources to keep up with all the different types of usbs that can look like any thing these days

@Passing_Through sad story my heart goes out to you!

In general RIPA 2000 is not to bad, the idea is if your not guilty your going to cooperate but in the real world the chances are the punishment will be far worse than a few weeks in the jail I cant remember the exact time without looking it up. It may only help a few cases in the course of about 100 cases but I cant see the harm that it is doing. In the case of @Passing_Through withholding the evidence or not would it really have effected him.

By fever on 7 Oct 2010

@pauld1024 && @Passing_Through

@pauld1024

From a digital forensic point of view you would be able to see all of attached devices connect and there are loads of other traces around the hard drive no matter if you store it on a usb or not plus the idea is to do a full search of the house if suspected and there is plenty of resources to keep up with all the different types of usbs that can look like any thing these days

@Passing_Through sad story my heart goes out to you!

In general RIPA 2000 is not to bad, the idea is if your not guilty your going to cooperate but in the real world the chances are the punishment will be far worse than a few weeks in the jail I cant remember the exact time without looking it up. It may only help a few cases in the course of about 100 cases but I cant see the harm that it is doing. In the case of @Passing_Through withholding the evidence or not would it really have effected him.

By fever on 7 Oct 2010

If he's 19 why has he been sent to a Young Offender's Institute? Surely he's a full adult by 19. Chuck him in with the rest of the alleged kiddie fiddlers.

By Phoomeister on 7 Oct 2010

mmm...

Did they try to format the drive and recover the data?
password to his PC or to individual files?
Something is not right on this story.

By mzungu1 on 7 Oct 2010

Memory lapse

Would it be illegal to forget some of those 50 characters?

By Mark_D on 7 Oct 2010

@mzungu1

Woudn;t make a diffrence if you formatted or not, Its not each file that is passworded the whole drive it self is encrytped (bet its truecrypt)

Even if you stick it into another computer it just acts like a raw drive. boot from it then it asks for a password.

I have my laptop encrypted just incase it got stolen and me murderd

But hey that person who steals it and kills me would only get 1 month jail time

By Bikko on 7 Oct 2010

What is wrong with this picture?

I don't know which is worse - that this guy decided that he wasn't going to assist the police or that there are a whole load of bleeding hearts defending him. Look - it's really simple - either he is innocent of any and all charges of any crime, in which case he has absolutely no reason to withold his key, or he isn't, in which case he just got away with 16 days and his name being kept off the sex offenders register. Either way, stop turning him into a hero. He isn't!
If the police have due cause to search for evidence of a crime, then individuals must decide whether to cooperate or not, and TAKE THE CONSEQUENCES.

By Bregelad on 7 Oct 2010

Interesting comments...

English law has until recently always upheld the notion of "innocent until proven guilty". If the police have evidence of his guilt, then they could charge him with a more serious crime. This chap should not have to help the police in proving his suspected guilt, it is up to the police to do that.

Just because his hard drive is encrypted and he refuses to give them the key, does not make him guilty! I too wouldn't volunteer this information even though I have nothing to hide.

If we move towards a system of having to prove our innocence, we may as well have let Hitler win the war. Too many people here are judging this chap on nothing more than what we're told in the article, which is nothing of substance, other than he was arrested and charged for failing to provide the security key. Any other allegations are unproven and heresay, which in the absence of proven guilt, we must assume innocence.

By karpasea on 7 Oct 2010

@fever

You're right about the trace files. They scan drives forensically at a very low level, including deleted files, caches etc.
However, unless you're a supporter of the erosion of everyone's civil liberties (including those not suspected of a crime) and the surveillance state, you're wrong about RIPA 2000. While it has been used to good effect here, mostly it is abused by organisations such as local councils for non criminal investigations.

@Phoomeister

YOI's cater for offenders up to 21 years old. If his case first came to court when he was under 18 years old, he will be treated as a youth within the system. Even if it didn't he can still be sent to a YOI. If he was sent to an adult prison he would be unlikely to be put on a sex offenders wing because, like it or not, he hasn't been found guilty of a sex offence.

@mzungu1

The only thing wrong with this story is the reporting of it but that is almost always the case with stories like this. Not only are there complex legal considerations to this story, there are complex technical ones as well. It's my experience of media reporting of court cases that the reporting almost always never bears more than a passing resemblance to the facts of a case.

@Mark_D

His defence for not giving them the password/key might well have been that he can't remember it. If it was, it seems they didn't believe him!

@Bikka

It's a mandatory life sentence for murder with almost always a double digit number of years as a minimum tariff then the rest of your life out on licence with the prospect of an automatic recall to prison during all of that time. I know what you're getting at (the inequity of sentencing) but it's bit more than 'one month' I'm sure you'd agree. I thought this debate was a bit better than that.

@Bregelad

I see nobody here defending him of his alleged crime nor saying he was harshly sentenced for the RIPA 2000 offence. Indeed, as far as I know, not even the defendant is complaining about the consequences of his refusal to give the police all they need to properly investigate. I wonder if you've actually properly understood the comments being made (in particular those of Passing_through) before saying 'either he is innocent... in which case he has absolutely no reason to withold his key...'? I suspect you've no first hand experience of the crimnal justice system and that's why you make such sweeping statements.

@karpasea

The police might have evidence but just not enough evidence to convince the CPS, who are the ones who would have to convince a court 'beyond a reasonable doubt' of his guilt, that they would be able to do so. Without access to his hard drive they probably only have IP addresses and maybe a MAC address to go on and if he was on dynamic IP addressing, NAT'ing, MAC spoofing etc. there's clear reasonable doubt without seeing his drive and the CPS will be telling the police that. The CPS could take a punt with what they've got in the hope that they might get a judge and jury of similar mind to some who have commented on here (ie: willing to assume guilt and require the proof of innocence) but as you point out, in all but a limited set of cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. A juniour lawyer would shoot this case out of the sky at opening submissions with what they appear to have so far.

By ddoyley on 7 Oct 2010

This opens a market for a new type of encryption software

where you provide two files to be encrypted: One the real file (the child porn in this instance, not that I'm advocating this at all), and the other a file that you do want kept private, but that you don't mind responsible people to see (such as a bank account details file). And you provide two passwords.
Then when you decrypt the files, depending upon which password you enter, you get one or t'other file output. So when the police ask for "the password" give them the second one. They use it to successfully extract the bank account details file, and they can't prove or show any evidence that there is another password there. So they can't prosecute you for anything, not even for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice because they only have suspicion of this, not evidence.

By Neil9327 on 7 Oct 2010

police inconsistency?

Lancashire Constabulary own website says "Never share your password with anybody" #PasswordOrJail http://bit.ly/bDceAz

By DoctorPaul on 7 Oct 2010

FIRST PRINCIPLES

SIMPLICTY:-

Read Marcus Aurelius:-

"Of each particular thing, ask this: what is it in itself, what is its nature ?"

What is "an indecent image" ?

"If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs thee, but thine own judgement about it. It is within thy power to wipe out this judgement, now"

By RogerHamilton on 7 Oct 2010

@RogerHamilton

For the purposes of the laws under which he will most likely have been charged, it would be for a jury to decide what is indecent. However, there is legal precedent so a jury would be unlikely to 'wipe out this judgement' as you would seem to want them to do.

By ddoyley on 7 Oct 2010

@DoctorPaul

And another thing - for years the police have been telling me not to talk to strangers AND if I'm lost to talk to a policeman.

By steviesteveo on 7 Oct 2010

indecent images of a person under 19 years of age' ?

At the time of the alledged offence Oliver Drage would have been aged 17 or 18. An age that most people would consider him to be an adult. However for pornography reasons I think the police treat everyone up to and including the age of 18 as a child.
He likely would consider naked pictures of an 18 year old to be adult porn and not child porn as most peole would.
There must be many people who have pictures of naked 18 year olds on their computer not realising it is an offence.
The law needs to be clearer. The offence should be renamed to 'on suspicion of possessing indecent images of a person under 19 years of age'

By stevematt on 7 Oct 2010

@stevematt

In law you are conidered an adult at age 18. The two main factors that determine if you are treated as an adult by the CJS are your age when you commit the offence and your age when the offence first gets to court. There are other factors as well, including whether the offence was committed in concert with another person who is an adult and the type of offence.

As for indecent photos, photos of adults can also be considered indecent. However, in this case (and most other cases), the photos were of children, ie: people under the age of 18.

The law is absolutely clear.

By ddoyley on 8 Oct 2010

Delayed the inevitable

Pretty meaningless action failing to release Password for Encrypted drive. The drives will sit in the evidence locker until they are either cracked or of no further interest. I suspect that at some point in the future the drives will be unencrypted, and as we have no statue of limitations any evidence gathered will then be used. Similar to DNA samples now being used to prosecute historic cases.

By Fl45hBAng on 9 Oct 2010

@Fl45hBAng

I would say they'll more likely decide it's of no further interest/not in the public interest to continue with the investigation but would agree that sooner or later it will be cracked. It could be something of a pyrrhic victory in the end though couldn't it? If there are no indecent photos, the 19 year old has done time just for his principles. If there are, his sentence will be aggravated by the trouble he's put the police to to get the evidence. As you say, this could come back to haunt him 20 years from now. If I was him I'd be worried about every knock on the door.

By ddoyley on 9 Oct 2010

such injustice

Now, I don't condone child abuse but I don't condone heavy handed police tactics either. We hear so many stories of miscarages of justice, and so much police BS, that its no wonder people wont cooperate with the police.

I can remember watching a documentary about a man whose daughter had made an innocent comment at play group. She had been over heard by one of her teachers saying "Licking bums is rude". The teacher reported this and the parents (mostly the father I seem to recall) were investigated by the police and all this was made public. Trial by tabloid you might say (don't get me started on those dogs). He was innocent but the best the police could do after such a long investigation was to issue a statement saying insufficient evidence to proceed. It turns out that the little girls had seen a dog licking it's bum and had said to her mum that we don't lick our bums. The mother had said, no dear, that's rude, or words to that effect. When the child was partly over heard repeating this, that's when all hell broke loose for the family.

I could go on about all the miscarages of justice in the world and there are already examples on this forum.

Even if he is innocent, he'd have one hell of a job proving it as has already been mentioned here. He's in a no win situation so why prolong the agony? Take the few weeks and hope that get's it over with. It may not be the end of it but nothing ever will be. Once the police get hold of you, they are incredibly reluctant to let it go, guilty or not.

I don't know this kid. I don't know if he is innocent or guilty. The point is, it seems to make not a blind bit of difference to the police once they start on their slippery slope.

So really, who can blame him?

By humanbean on 4 Nov 2010

Opinions from a Computing Student

Being someone who works with computers everyday professionally I have to admit if the police wanted my 3 50-60 character passphrases to get onto my hard drives I’d refuse, I’m not being all male tough guy or anything but having someone going through things which are filled with personal documents is like having your house ripped apart while the police search the house on a rumour that you have some drugs.
I also find this law where you have to give passphrases to the law a bit hypocritical, you get all these companies/government telling everyone to do such things as "never give out your debit card details" and "never give out passwords", so just because you’re the police/court you expect me to do something everyone tells us not to do?
There are many reasons this guy might not want others seeing his hard drive, we are in the age where personal computers really are personal, we can do virtually anything on them nowadays and I really can’t blame him for hiding the contents of his hard drive, I will give an example, my hard drives (2 internal, 1 external) are all encrypted with 50+ characters passwords, the reason being? I understand why good security is a must mostly, and the fact I don’t trust many people, but if say my machine was to be stolen most people would think it would be wiped and sold on or stripped for parts, but I think before they do either of those they would search the hard drives for useful things (e.g. bank details), if a hard drive is encrypted I make it difficult for them, criminals are getting smarter as technology gets more sophisticated, everyone should be aware of this.
I really do believe in the “innocent until proven guilty” quote, and I see a lot of you saying “well if he’s innocent he would have no problem giving them the passwords”, my question to you all, why should he? I always thought the police had to prove you were guilty? If we live in a day and age where your assumed guilty rather than innocent then we are all doomed, I’m sure in the next 10-20 years we will all have to carry around ID cards just to prove were not terrorists the way things are now.
All in all even if I have nothing illegal to hide, I sure won’t be making it easy for someone to get into my personal items, the way I see it, if you’re going to accuse me of something, then I sure as hell am going to make them work for the result which proves my innocence/guilt (I pay for their wages after all), I see no reason why I should make it easy for them.
Before I get responses saying I approve of what he’s been accused of I would like to say I don’t approve of things such as indecent child images and such, things like that make me sick and angry.

By DevotedSniper on 5 Nov 2010

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