back to article UK terror law reviewer calls for expanded police powers to imprison people who refuse to hand over passwords

The UK's Government Reviewer of Terrorism Laws is again advising the removal of legal safeguards around a controversial law that allows people to be jailed if they refuse police demands for forced decryption of their devices. In what appears to be a recurring theme, Jonathan Hall QC said police should be able to threaten …

  1. scrubber

    Come Down From Your Ivory Tower

    "what I have picked up anecdotally from a number of different sources, is that the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed."

    Tell that to photographers who are routinely stopped, questioned ID'd under anti-terrorism laws.

    Whatever happened to "You have the right to remain silent"?

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Come Down From Your Ivory Tower

      Whatever happened to "You have the right to remain silent"?

      It got extended: "you have the right to remain silent and we have the right to interpret that silence as an admission of guilt".

    2. strum

      Re: Come Down From Your Ivory Tower

      Yes, that 'rare' comment screamed of naivity.

      Any power that is available will be used, often just as a fishing expedition, into the affairs of someone the police find annoying - a journo, lawyer, activist.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Yes, when you live in a police state.

        The problem is, the UK is supposed to be a civilized country, emphasis on "supposed".

        The bitter fact is that Bin Laden has won. We are doing far more damage to our own way of life than Bin Laden could ever have dreamed.

    3. Sanctimonious Prick
      Pirate

      Re: Come Down From Your Ivory Tower

      Apple and Google are big defenders of personal privacy, are they not? Shirley the next update can include the option of having a two password system? One password unlocks the phone, the other one wipes it.

      "Oh. Oops! So**y officer, wrong password."

      Won't wash, will it?

      Still, worth a shot until they change the laws again, right?

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

    And yet it's the only thing which is protecting us from a massive terrorist attack every day

    1. sed gawk Silver badge

      Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

      Yeah right - "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents_in_Great_Britain"

      "Since 1970, there have been at least 3,395 terrorist-related deaths in the UK"

      https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/922717/reported-road-casualties-annual-report-2019.pdf

      •There was a total of 153,158 casualties of all severitiesin reported road traffic accidents in 2019. This is 5% lower than in 2018 and is the lowest level since 1979 when this statistical series with current definitions and detail began.

      IT's the cars you should be worried about, but keep on using "terry wists" as you ignore your rights being stolen. Give your head a wobble.

      1. ahnlak

        Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

        I *think* you may have missed the sarcasm in that original post.

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

          Explicitly tag it if you mean sarcasm or risk befalling Poe's law

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

            >Explicitly tag it if you mean sarcasm

            what site are you on ?

            1. IGotOut Silver badge

              Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

              The one that gives you the ability to add a "Joke" or a "I'll get my coat" icon.

              1. ClockworkOwl
                FAIL

                Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

                Really?

                Should it include trigger warnings as well?

                Honestly, there's nothing subtle about the sarcasm in the OP, I'd have missed it otherwise...

                1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                  Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

                  there's nothing subtle about the sarcasm in the OP

                  36 downvotes (at this point) says otherwise.

                  There are people who post here in favor of draconian laws. They're in the minority, but they're not unknown. It's not unreasonable to interpret the original post as sincere.

                  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                    Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

                    I think it is a badge of honour on el'reg to write a sarcastic post that only gets downvotes

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: or risk befalling Poe's law

            Which one? Do you mean Edgar Allen, or that character from Star Wars?

        2. sed gawk Silver badge

          Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

          Not very long ago someone I've known a long time, gently explained that ethnic cleansing was okay because some groups of people are just lesser. They were not sarcastic, I was perturbed, it's changed how I view them.

          I'm increasingly losing the ability to read for context amid the torrent of awful views expressed in reasonable terms.

          I shall take greater care on el-reg.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

            I'm the same with racism. Some races are just naturally superior.

            .

            .

            .

            .

            .

            The TT is the best, except for the late lamented 'group B' , Le Mans is great and F1 used to be good, NASCAR sucks

      2. Blazde Silver badge

        Re: the use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed.

        Under what logic does a count of successful terrorist attacks become a useful metric of thwarted terrorist attacks?

  3. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Protect?

    The biggest problem with minor powers that are "rarely used" have a tendency to get used more and more until they are being used for things they were never intended for, and this has happened time and again. There are reasons why Judges have to be involved at certain stages and those reasons are because of the number of times Police powers have been abused to obtain unsafe convictions. Isn't it funny that all these extra "rights" are being added into legislation here and there just when we are "not allowed" to protest about them? If they are the ONLY thing protecting us from a Terrorist attack, then perhaps we need to sack all of the CT Police and GCHQ?

    How far does this "Protection" have to go? Will the police be satisfied when they can lock up someone because of their tone of voice? These may be little steps, but when there are lots of them they soon add up to a Police State.

    1. Fr. Ted Crilly

      Re: Protect?

      Or going equiped with a loud shirt and walking on the cracks in the pavement...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Protect?

        Or "looking at me in a funny way" ...

        1. MrBanana Silver badge

          Re: Protect?

          "Walking around with an offensive wife."

          Known jailbird apparently.

        2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: Protect?

          The current one - walking outside not on “essential” business.

          Taking into account that people seem to be ok with a requirement to disclose your medical history when going to pub “because it is Covid”, it would be hypocritical to not extend that requirement for actual criminals.

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Protect?

      Or taking pictures of your own daughter eating ice cream (this happened TEN years ago under anti-terrorism laws)

      https://www.news.com.au/national/call-the-police-hes-photographing-his-daughter/news-story/5077fe084b20837f31b43993cf634f83

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Protect?

      If the only permissible use is under the prevention of terrorism then the plod will just try to make everyone they nick look like a terrorist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Protect?

        During a stint with one company, the MD was charged under anti-terrorism legislation via a very tenuous link. Basically, "we don't understand your financials." Yes, he was shifting money around, but no, it wasn't to fund terror as any fool could see by his extravagant lifestyle. The cops also triple counted the money he had funnelled because they were too lazy to follow it correctly and just added up any amounts that had travelling through several bank accounts even though it was all originally from the same pot.

        They already abuse the legislation so all this will do is remove the threat of being caught out.

        And no, I'm not justifying the MD's actions, just pointing out that anti-terrorism laws are already used far too widely because it's easier than doing proper police work.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Protect?

          1st millennium, no anti-terrorism laws, loads of viking attacks

          2nd millennium, anti-terrorism laws introduced, fewer viking raids

          3rd millennium, use of strict anti-terrorism laws against Icelanders, no viking raids

        2. Boo Radley

          Re: Protect?

          My last job was with a doctor that fell afoul of the Internal Revenue Service in this same way. They counted every dollar movement as taxable income, and billed him 1.5 million dollars, when his total income that year was less than 400k. Rather than spend a fortune fighting them, he simply closed up shop and relocated to the Philippines, where he conveniently not only spoke the language, but he also owned a nice home. Screw you, IRS!

      2. rg287 Silver badge

        Re: Protect?

        I believe the proper indictment in Police vernacular is "the Ways and Means Act <insert year>".

        Does whatever you need it to if you deliver it convincingly.

        Not to be confused with the Treasury usage of "Ways and Means" to refer to taxes and other charges.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Protect?

      There is also the danger that laws introduced for a specific purpose are then used against those that they are supposed to protect. When the 'Race Relations' act was passed in parliament in 1968, it was meant to make blatant discrimination illegal. Well about the first 30 prosecutions were brought against..............

      people of colour ! Unbelievable.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is anyone still under the illusion we are living in a free country?

    1. Woodnag Silver badge

      free country?

      Name me one country where police or other LE face accountability when powers are exceeded and/or abused.

      Name me one country where prosecution is not discretionary and therefore subect to abuse.

      1. sed gawk Silver badge

        Re: free country?

        I live here, I vote here, I don't care about the Law there.

        I don;t have anytime for "others are bad" argument, as we live here.

        I understand some of the words might be a bit long for you..

        1. nematoad Silver badge

          Re: free country?

          Think on this, if you can.

          First they came for the Jews

          and I did not speak out

          because I was not a Jew.

          Then they came for the Communists

          and I did not speak out

          because I was not a Communist.

          Then they came for the trade unionists

          and I did not speak out

          because I was not a trade unionist.

          Then they came for me

          and there was no one left

          to speak out for me.

          Martin Niemöller

  5. TimMaher Silver badge
    Holmes

    Clarify something for me.

    If I encrypt a message using a key known only to me & the recipient and that message is written on some vellum and posted to the recipient, can the roz get me sent to gaol for not telling them the key?

    If not, then they can’t do it with a memory stick either... m’lud.

    Anyone know?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Clarify something for me.

      Yes, and IIRC it doesn't even have to be "encrypted" you just have to reveal the meaning.

      So if you text "the eagle flies south in winter", you have to tell them what the secret meaning is.

      Heaven help you if you have a copy of Finnegans wake or Gravity's Rainbow and they demand you tell them what the real meaning is.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Clarify something for me.

        If the police can convince the police that a random binary blob on your hard disk is encrypted material you can go to prison for failing to provide a password that lets them translate it into something interpretable.

        It's a shitty law, it was a shitty law in 2000 which is why we wrote to our MPs and to the Home Secretary to protest it, and it's the proposed changes now would merely make it even shittier.

        1. AlbertH
          Coat

          Re: Clarify something for me.

          They're going to have serious problems with the huge, encrypted, deliberately obsfuscated binary blobs that make up some "operating systems" - Windows for one, and iOS for another....

  6. TVC

    Surely Government departments like GCHQ can already read all our stuff without a password or don't they want to admit that?

    1. MrBanana Silver badge

      I'm sure they are unable to confirm or deny that speculation.

    2. mtp
      Black Helicopters

      Not just XKCD that is obligatory

      https://dilbert.com/strip/2013-09-06

    3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      The Answer is Extremely Simple ..... Buy In what You Find Missing and Need at Any Price

      Surely Government departments like GCHQ can already read all our stuff without a password or don't they want to admit that? ..... TVC

      If one accepts that they easily can and do, and have been doing for some considerable length of time with immunity and impunity guaranteed in that overloaded with rich information space, ...... and it is a very wise presumption to make for there are bound to be any number of such bodies availing themselves of such possible abilities and therefore probable facilities and engaging utilities in order to try and stay way out in front and ahead luxuriating in the benefits and comforts which accompany the acquisition and experimental and experiential use whenever not abuse and misuse of prime remote second and third party, proprietary private and secret pirated knowledge ....... one does have to wonder and ponder on how and why they have made such an almighty bollocks of a pig's ear of everything, as is evidenced by all of the news which realises world views and provides the bigger pictures that present the current myriad global states of Greater IntelAIgent Games Plays.

      It is impossible not to correctly conclude they are directly responsible and ultimately accountable for what is nothing less than a Mammoth Series of Colossal Epic Fails which can only be explained and excused by a valiant admission that there is an obvious lack of necessary contracted in-house intelligence to exercise.

      J'accuse.

  7. MrBanana Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Plausible deniability

    How do they know it is an encrypted anything? I generate files full of random data to test compression and indexing methods. Ain't no password on them, no siree plod.

    1. grizewald

      Re: Plausible deniability

      It hardly matters does it?

      If plod says "He won't surrender the password for this 'obviously' encrypted file, down you go for five years. After they let you out, plod will intercept you at the prison gates, arrest you and ask the same question again. Down you go for another five years."

      It pains me to see the UK descend increasingly rapidly into a police state.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: surrender the password

        All my passwords are actually brute-force password cracking algorithms. I just try to remember the right number of characters to help them along a bit faster.

      2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Plausible deniability

        > If plod says "He won't surrender the password for this 'obviously' encrypted file, down you go for five years. After they let you out, plod will intercept you at the prison gates, arrest you and ask the same question again. Down you go for another five years."

        Whatever you do, don't change your password to "No comment".

        1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Plausible deniability

          Whatever you do, don't change your password to "No comment".

          Many years ago, one of the crew wrote DAMIDFK as an aide memoir for a password. When asked what it meant, he replied:

          "Don't ask me, I don't fucking know".

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Plausible deniability

            >Whatever you do, don't change your password to "No comment".

            I thought you always set your password to "I'm a mason" ?

          2. Andrew 6

            Re: Plausible deniability

            How about using the phrase "I will not reveal my password under any circumstances"

            Just wait for it to get to court and ask for the charge to be dismissed as you had complied by telling them your password. Then she for emotional distress due to being pointlessly dragged through the courts despite having complied immediately.

      3. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Plausible deniability

        After they let you out, plod will intercept you at the prison gates, arrest you and ask the same question again. Down you go for another five years

        Probably more, because you were already condemned once for the same offence, and you're now a repeat offender.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: Plausible deniability

          or more likely the time behind the bars will have gone up for the same offence because it was not enough of a deterrent before, even before taking into account the repetition...

      4. MrBanana Silver badge

        Re: Plausible deniability

        "It pains me to see the UK descend increasingly rapidly into a police state."

        Agreed. My ticket out is booked for mid April. Goodbye, and good luck.

        1. Ordinary Donkey

          Re: Plausible deniability

          My ticket out is booked for mid April. Goodbye, and good luck.

          As someone who already left this gives me a curiously fuzzy feeling. Good to see others doing the same thing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plausible deniability

      "How do they know it is an encrypted anything? I generate files full of random data to test compression and indexing methods. Ain't no password on them, no siree plod."

      All you have to do is present the original uncompressed version to prove your point. You did keep it so you could check your compression algorithm was reversible, right?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Plausible deniability

        And of course any message of length N can be 'decrypted' into any othe rmessage of length N by supplying the correct key.

        So just remember to XOR your terrorist message with "Boris is the one true leader, all praise Boris" and keep the result as your key to hand over.

      2. MrBanana Silver badge

        Re: Plausible deniability

        I'm only generating random test data, the uncompressed version is all they have to examine. They could see a bunch of of compressed versions, but what would that get them?

      3. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Plausible deniability

        Given that any compression algorithm will have, for some inputs, an output that is larger than the input you could really have fun.

        So present them with a file that is smaller than the 'compressed' version.

        Sit back and watch plod's head implode.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Plausible deniability

      There are protocols for deniable encryption, where a ciphertext can be decrypted into one or more plausible alternative plaintexts using the appropriate keys.

      Obviously, any message can be transformed by some function into any of a set of 2N messages, where N is the information entropy of the original message in bits; the point of deniable encryption is to provide alternatives using a plausible encryption function and a key you already know.

      It's past time to roll deniable encryption out across personal devices.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Plausible deniability

        Unfortunately this works both ways.

        The suspect has a text message saying "see you next tuesday" we have decrypted this to reveal "Kill the prime minister" using the following key .

        Now the jury just has to decide whether they believe the nice policeman in his nice uniform or the brown/muslim/irish (delete as appropriate) terrorist.

    4. WobblyBelly

      Re: Plausible deniability

      If you don't give us a working password when we demand one, you will go to prison.

      If there isn't anything that can be opened with a password then, it's just not your ten years, is it mate

  8. Claverhouse Silver badge
    WTF?

    The Ticking Timebomb

    However, Hall described the judicial permission requirement as being "in no way suited to high pressure terrorism investigations"

    .

    Why would terrorists put and keep their future plan on any Tech ?

    Maybe a private passworded Blogger blog... ?

    .

    Myself, I wouldn't even use a phone.

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: The Ticking Timebomb

      Why? Dunno, incompetence? It's observed fact that they frequently do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Low hanging fruit

        The naive ones are simple to catch, often encouraged and helped along by agents to get an easy conviction - good for the CV

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: The Ticking Timebomb

        The fact is that most terrorists aren't very good at it. The myth of the "terrorist mastermind" is widely used by the fear-mongers and authoritarians, but there are few to no examples of actual cleverness in terror strategy, planning, tactics, or attacks.

        Bruce Schneier used to run a contest for "Hollywood terrorist attack" scenarios, just to show security people could come up with plots as silly as those being bandied about by the fear-mongers and content producers. And many of the ones he printed were considerably more thoughtful and would likely have been considerably more effective than real-life ones.

        None of that justifies the assault on civil rights, of course.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The Ticking Timebomb

      I'm not sure why it being a "high pressure terrorism investigation" has to do with reducing oversight on password demands anyway. If the person they arrested has incriminating evidence on a phone or computer, why would they give up the password based on a 5 year prison sentence threat? They'd likely get more than 5 if the evidence is exposed.

      And if, on release after less than 5 years (automatic tariff reduction(, they get asked again, they give the password because after 5 years it's not likely there'll be anything of use after so long.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: The Ticking Timebomb

        Jonathan Hall QC simply made an error in the report. He meant to write "a high-pressure1 terrorist investigation", where the terrorists are, of course, the investigators.

        Though with people like Jonathan Hall QC around, who needs terrorists at all, eh?

        1A lawyer who doesn't understand hyphenation should be barred from practicing until completing a remedial writing course.

    3. batfink Silver badge

      Re: The Ticking Timebomb

      So, the solution to this "high pressure investigation" problem is to, er, put someone away for five years?

  9. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Some things to consider:

    [1] despite a few recent highly publicised (and undeniably nasty) events, per population capita day the incidence of terrorism in the UK is vanishingly small, even at "escalated" levels.

    [2] "Special Branch" was formed in 1881 to counter the "Fenian threat", when "anarchism" was also genuinely widespread. However within a few years "provocateurs" were active as there was a shortage of incidents to pursue. [Bernard Porter: The origins of the vigilant state, Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1987]

    [3] There was initially huge public resistance to the formation of "special branch", but the public got used to it, and even started to admire it, very quickly. [ibid.]

    [4] "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. [...] The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home..If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." [ President James Madison (1751-1863)]

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Some things to consider:

      BTW, Madison died in 1836, not 1863.

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Some things to consider:

      "There was initially huge public resistance to the formation of "special branch", but the public got used to it, and even started to admire it, very quickly. [ibid.]"

      Remember getting filmed by SB at an anti South Africa protest (back when SA was apartheid state & Thatcher was calling ANC a terrorist organisation).

      Even though there followed lots of back tracking and a lot of friends of the old white SA pretend they loved the fall of apartheid and never thought being anti apartheid was being pro terrorist you can guarantee there's still dusty files on me (& plenty of other peaceful protestors) with "not a nice tory boy" style labelling (whatever it is,worded as it means I don't get security clearance, though TBF was not just SA protests, could be on the "not one of us" list for protests about US missiles / eavesdropping stations on UK soil, tough was not filmed by SB on those (AFAIK))

      Nobody politically active and with a few views deemed to be anti establishment to some degree admired SB as they will have seen actions by SB (or moving on a bit

      FIT operatives etc.)

  10. Mike 16 Silver badge

    s/Regulation/Rubberstamping/

    Or would that amendment to the title fall afoul of the "truth in legislative titles" act (which prohibits truthful titles)?

    1. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: s/Regulation/Rubberstamping/

      Or would that amendment to the title fall afoul of the "truth in legislative titles" act (which prohibits truthful titles)?

      Titles are frequently truthful. The Terrorism Act is indeed an Act of Terrorism against the British people. Clue's in the name!

  11. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Big Brother

    I've

    got an encrypted USB drive somewhere

    was arsing about with full disk encryption , safest thing to do was try it on a USB stick.

    Buggered if I can remember the password......... Do I go down for that if the cops have a reason to raid me and find it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do I go down for that

      I imagine so. I'm in the same boat - e.g. somewhere I have an encrypted file with a load of old backups in it. I didn't delete it because I was hoping the password might magically resurface from the depths of memory, but that was ages ago, and the house is more or less awash with two decade's accumulation of old hard drives, CF & SD cards, and usb sticks. I try to erase them when they become redundant but it's impossible to keep track of everything...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Do I go down for that

        I hope none of those drives fail and become unreadable, possibly leaving random errors in any block.

        Funnily enough one of our compliance rules is that drives with financial data should be overwritten with random data a certain number of times (I know, but the rules were obviously written in 1980 and nobody can change them). Then we have a bunch of apparently encrypted drives marked as financial data that we can't provide the key for.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Do I go down for that

          Your string of random bits might not be any good. It might have holes in it. Just to make sure replace every zero with a one. And you won't be asked for the key.

  12. John Savard Silver badge

    Eliminating Abuse

    I should think it's obvious what is needed to eliminate the police falsely claiming a case involves terrorism so they can get their nice juicy powers to unlock people's smartphones! In addition to terrorism, give them the same special powers in cases involving drug trafficking, since that's also such a pressing problem. Then the police will be using their special powers in exactly the way that is intended and written in the law!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but they don't

    Real "terrorist" don't care if you threaten them with 1 day or 100 years, they are ready to die. Jail is easy.

    Not to mention if they are hiding something important, they know they will get more time for what's in there.

    The Gov would have a better chance of charging birds for flying permits.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: but they don't

      Perhaps the tides as well.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: but they don't

        Cnut!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: but they don't

      Only a subset of them. I don't remember any IRA, INLA, UVF or the like going on deliberate suicide missions.

  14. Conundrum1885

    Re. Passwords

    Good luck trying to extract information from someone with MCI, caused by (for example) a stroke, heavy metal exposure (eg Hg, Pb) , traumatic brain injury, Alzheimers etc.

    One would hope that there is a specific mechanism to take this into consideration in genuine cases where the password was forgotten or at least parts of it.

    Had something like this a while back where a specific asthma medication caused me to fail my mock GCSEs, later found out it had been recalled and no longer manufactured as the propellant had been linked to MCI.

    I only mention it as an example of a legitimate reason for not recalling a specific important piece of information.

    https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-09-common-drugs-tied-cognitive-decline.html

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Re. Passwords

      >Good luck trying to extract information from someone with MCI, caused by (for example) a stroke, heavy metal exposure (eg Hg, Pb) , traumatic brain injury, Alzheimers etc.

      You just send them to the same white collar open prison as the Guinness guys, then they will be miraculously cured and able to remember.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...hand passwords over..."

    What exactly does this mean?

    Code books don't have a password:

    - "The fox has gone to earth" meaning "Scarper"

    - "The owl has got the mouse" meaning "New message in dead letter box"

    - ......and so on

    Do I need to turn over the code book?.......plain text, no cipher, no password!!

    *

    Then there are "book" ciphers....no password...do I have to disclose my specially written document?

    *

    Then there are one-time pads.....do I have to hand anything over?

    *

    Does the "private key" used in PGP count as a "password"?

    *

    Seems that Jonathan Hall might need some convoluted "lawyering" to translate the work "password" into an authority to attempt to crack LOTS of possible obfuscation!!!!

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: "...hand passwords over..."

      Not to forget poem codes (used at least in some cases by the SOE in WWII. I recommend "Between Silk and Cyanide").

      If I use a poem that has been banned for naughty words, can I (in the U.S. at least) claim fifth amendment right to not disclose that I have, or had, a copy of that poem in my possession?

  16. ecofeco Silver badge

    Police exempt from laws?

    Where have we seen this before? Besides every corrupt and oppressive government in history?

    Seems oddly familiar. Can't quite place it though.

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I've spent a few evenings and weekends working on "high pressure terrorist investigations" without such aids. Terrorists attempt to overthrow the rule of law and its safeguards for the innocent. If, as a state, you decide to ditch those safeguards yourself you've gone a long way to admitting that they've beaten you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Doctor_Syntax

      Quote: "Terrorists attempt to overthrow the rule of law and its safeguards for the innocent."

      *

      Link: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/21/british-spies-hacked-into-belgacom-on-ministers-orders-claims-report

      *

      Quote re-written: "Governments attempt to overthrow the rule of law and its safeguards for the innocent."

      *

      There.......fixed the draft for you!

  18. earl grey

    Shocked I am

    that no one has yet mentioned:

    WHAT CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG ™

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waiting ... Three, Two, One

    ZERO --- But, but, but CHILD PORN, THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

    When theytry to justify actually passing the law. Happens every time and I don't recall any time that these powers were actually used to preempt an attack or crack a CP case it is always on the ground work and/or carelessness on the part of the criminal. Their only real use has been increasing the severity of the sentence.

    DaveC

  20. energonic

    Judge

    What is wrong with divulging a password to a legal judge, not directly to the police? The police may then request the judge to provide them with the password. That gives legal traceability.

  21. Dave 144

    "allows police to demand the password for any device". Not strictly true. The S49 notice compels a suspect to provide access to the device. It may be by password or other means. This also negates the, 'I thought that was my password' defence. If it was purely a request for a password, a suspect could provide an incorrect password and still have complied with the order, hence the wording.

    Please also remember, that whilst TERRORISM! is the buzzword in this article, these powers are used against paedophiles, drug dealers etc; on a more regular basis.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      > these powers are used against paedophiles, drug dealers etc; on a more regular basis.

      And terrorist dog fouling litter droppers and nursery school pupils

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A form of torture?

    Seems very British Police Force to me

  23. YetAnotherJoeBlow Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    Such a BS excuse too. Do they really think a terrorist will worry about a 5 year sentence? Of course not; but everyone else will have to expose their life to cops at airports, trains, buses, and ships.

    This is blatent abuse.

  24. heyrick Silver badge

    if they wanted to search a terror suspect's phone.

    Now let's have them precisely define "terror suspect" so they don't aim this shit at anybody deemed inconvenient, like journalists...

    1. batfink Silver badge

      Re: if they wanted to search a terror suspect's phone.

      But, but - you've just given them the definition right there: "anyone deemed inconvenient"...

  25. teebie

    "use of section 49 by CT Police is likely to be rare indeed."

    credulous simpleton

  26. A_Melbourne

    I am so glad to have moved to Eastern Europe. Russia next stop.

    So glad to be away from the police states of England and Australia.

    I must confess that my ex-wife timed the divorce to perfection.:)

  27. perlcat

    Rights, schmights.

    As conservative as I am, this is insane. Due process? What's that? As usual, terrorism is being used as a bugaboo to render people's rights null and void, while no actual terrorists will be impacted by this in any way, shape, or form. It proves my theory of government: If a politician says it's "affordable", it isn't, if they say "it's for your own good", it makes them rich, if they say "we want to protect you", they want you as their sole victim, and if they say they want to tax "some other guy", they want to tax you in specific.

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