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the right to encryption is as much a right as that of freedom of speech

Comment 6th July 2010

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) makes it illegal not to hand over, when asked, passwords or other keys required to decrypt encrypted material, on penalty of imprisonment. This contravenes the right to silence and the right not to incriminate oneself, and is anathema to a free society. Keeping one's documents safe by encrypting them is as much a right as keeping papers locked in a safe – if the authorities can get into the safe, that's fine, but they should not be able to compel you to hand over the keys, particularly when the onus is on the accused to demonstrate that a file is not actually encrypted material.

Why does this matter?

The right to silence and the right not to incriminate oneself is a fundamental tenet of a free society.


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