Thursday, October 16

Paranoid Scenario (a.k.a. nineteeneightyfour)

It seems to me that in UK, it's enough to have an electronic storage device (like a cellphone, camera, USB flash-drive or computer) for the police to be able to arrest you and throw you in jail, for two to five years.

Let me explain that in detail:

First, the UK appeal court decided that if the police ask you for your encryption key, you have to provide it (That is, not having it is not an excuse).

Second, they could always ask for the key to decrypt your TrueCrypt partition. (TrueCrypt allows you to hide information in seemingly unoccupied data of the storage device, in such a way that no traces remain that data was ever there).

Third, good luck explaining that nothing is actually hidden there (that the seemingly random data in unoccupied space is actually random data in the unoccupied space); remember, not providing the (non-existent) key doesn't get you off the hook.

I hope I can ascribe this scenario to incompetence; the alternative (malice) makes me shiver.

Later edit: I can also ascribe this scenario to paranoia methinks ... :-\


Andrei said...


utnapistim said...

It's one of the classic dystopian novels, written by George Orwell.

The book describes a totalitarian regime, attempting to control the population by brainwashing and constant supervision among other things and having the power to arrest anyone for crimes that could not be proved one way or another, but that all people were accusable of. In the novel one of the characters is arrested and tortured for having (presumably) spoken in his sleep against the party.

What I thought of here is a similar scenario: you get accused of having hidden data, masqueraded to look like unoccupied space; then, when you fail to provide the decryption key, the state can arrest you and put you in jail, for two years; if they mention they suspect you for problems relating to national defence, they can keep you in jail for five years ... because you have an electronic storage device, and because they want to.

utnapistim said...

Here's a link.