The Regulation of Investigatory Powers act removes all rights of privacy in discourse by electonic means. It inverts the principle of "Innocent until proven guilty". Further and ridiculously, it requires one to prove before a court that one has forgotten something.
I refer you to this article from the Observer of 4th June 2000, shortly before the Act came into force.
The Home Secretary has the power to compel anyone to reveal encryption/decryption keys that are used to make electronic communication private. If you can't, won't or don't then you can be imprisoned for two years. If you tell someone else that you have been compelled to reveal keys then you can be imprisoned for five years. "You" might be any person or legal entity.
This act is a gross infringement of our rights to privacy and security and an accrual to the executive of powers and rights of Stalinist or, possibly, Kafkaesque proportions.
Quote: "The news that henceforth all UK internet traffic will find its way to MI5
does not seem to have yet reached MPs, most of whom don't understand the
technology and assume that the Home Office must know what it is doing."
That'll be the Home Office that turned out "not [to be] fit for purpose".
Why does this idea matter?
Paragraphs 13 and 14 of the article refered to above read as follows:
"It is Part III of the Bill, however, which is most likely to contravene
the Convention [the European Convention of Human Rights]. Section 46 gives the Home Secretary the power to compel the surrender of keys used to encrypt communications data. Failure to comply carries a prison sentence of two years. If someone cannot comply
because they have lost or forgotten the key then they have to prove that
to the satisfaction of a court. In other words, the burden of proof is
shifted from the prosecution to the defence – one is presumed guilty until
proved innocent. And how do you prove that you have forgotten something?
"Even more oppressive is the Bill's creation of a secondary offence –
revealing that you have been required to supply, or supplied, a decryption
key – which carries an even stiffer penalty. Under the terms of the Bill,
for example, the police could arrive at 4am and demand that you produce
such a key. If you were unable to comply and were taken in for
questioning, it would be a criminal offence punishable by five years'
imprisonment to explain to your family why you were being dragged off."
John Naughton, The Observer, 4th June 2000. "Your privacy ends here".