back to article Brit broke anti-terror law by refusing to cough up passwords to cops

Muhammad Rabbani, international director of human-rights non-profit CAGE, was today convicted under UK anti-terror law for refusing to unlock his iPhone and laptop for police when entering the country. Rabbani, 36, was found guilty at Westminster magistrates’ court of willful obstruction under Schedule 7 paragraph 18(1)(c) of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The authorities apparently still retain his laptop and phone.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      As an interesting aside ..

      Arrive at Heathrow in 2015

      Border Agency Goon: 'Excuse me Sir, could you step this way please? It's nothing you have done Sir, you have simply been selected for a random search. Can you please switch on your laptop? Oh, I see you have a security password on your laptop. Would you mind entering it please?'

      Me: "Yes, I would'

      Border Agency Goon; rants on about breach of law, up to 5 years in jail plus £10,000 fine. Brings in 2 mates who pick up laptop and shake it, as if that will sort out the password.

      Me: 'I would love to give you the password but this laptop belongs to Cabinet Office'. Can I call the office please and I am sure they will help you?'

      Border Agency zero-hours knuckle-draggers go into a huddle and decide that this is above their pay-grade.

      Motto: If you want to deal with people like that, smile, agree, be helpful and slide the knife in gently.

      1. smudge Silver badge

        Re: As an interesting aside ..

        Me: 'I would love to give you the password but this laptop belongs to Cabinet Office'. Can I call the office please and I am sure they will help you?'

        And you had written permission to take a laptop with HMG encryption out of the country?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As an interesting aside ..

          Sorry missed the bit where he didn't say it was encrypted.

          And no, you don't need written permission either.

          Apart from those points, your comments stand.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As an interesting aside ..

          Well,I have - frequently.

        3. macjules Silver badge

          Re: As an interesting aside ..

          Yes, because .. well... it was encrypted. That would be like asking every FCO staffer if they have permission to have a laptop in a foreign country.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "won the moral argument."

    Nobody wins a moral argument because morals are determined by whoever has power.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Morals are determined by whoever has power? They’re pretty much the only thing that ”aren’t“ determined by power.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        you're right about the big picture. No comfort for a chap facing a noose because, at precisely this century he was born in, the big picture gave way to "present circumstances"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There are two types of morals. Those imposed by a social authority and those you choose for yourself.

        The former can have several sources which apply in different circumstances. They may overlap and conflict with each other eg government; religion; social societies' mores.

        Being seen to go against those powers will lead to external punishment of one sort or another. For conformity you may embrace those morals without apparent question - or even be a fervent supporter. Your only choice is which apparent power you fear most.

        Potentially going against your own personal thought-through morals leads to an ethical dilemma that goes to the core of your being. You have to re-evaluate your stance and decide if there is a previously unsuspected nuance that must be accommodated.

      3. codejunky Silver badge

        @ Lord Elpuss

        "Morals are determined by whoever has power? They’re pretty much the only thing that ”aren’t“ determined by power."

        I must disagree. Morals dont actually exist, not in any absolutist form. That is why the greatest deeds and most evil actions can occur with no moral problem. Morality is subjective which is why it is perfectly ok to trod on peoples freedom to maintain freedom and to kill so as not to be killed.

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: @ Lord Elpuss

          @codejunky

          Morals do exist, and the simplest morals are unequivocal; no subjectivity necessary. Kant defined the moral imperative as those societal rules which enable society to prosper if adopted by everybody; e.g. respect for human life. If nobody respected human life we would perish as a race; hence respect for human life is a moral imperative regardless of where you are or what status you have.

          And your last statement - no it’s not ok. The fact that it happens, doesn’t make it ok.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: @ Lord Elpuss

            I disagree. EVERYTHING is relative; there are no absolutes. And the situation can change the moral compass. Consider "cold equation" situations where there MUST be a choice of who lives and who dies (think like 12 people stranded in the desert but only 2 bottles of water): abdication is not an option, either, as the default is everyone dies. It's not a case of everyone respects human life; it's more a case where the respect for human life is selective. And now you're put in an intractable moral quandry.

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: @ Lord Elpuss

              @Charles 9

              A moral code doesn’t preclude the existence of no-win scenarios. It does, however, determine how you feel about those scenarios. In your scenario, a moral man may have to make a choice about who lives or dies, and that choice may superficially be the same as the choice made by an immoral man, but the morality will determine the ”feeling“ (Attitudes, values and beliefs, cf Maslow) experienced by the decider. The moral man, believing in the sanctity of human life, will consider any and all alternatives before deciding (and will agonise endlessly afterward); whereas the immoral man will experience far less difficulty and may well ultimately decide on a purely arbitrary or brutally pragmatic basis; and likely suffer far less in the aftermath. Ironically, the hesitation that morality introduces here may well end up being riskier to the group than the ‘immoral but fast’ approach; but that’s a topic for another thesis ;)

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: @ Lord Elpuss

            @ Lord Elpuss

            "Morals do exist, and the simplest morals are unequivocal"

            I will need such an example. I have never heard yet of one but I am interested if there is one.

            "Kant defined the moral imperative as those societal rules which enable society to prosper if adopted by everybody"

            What unequivocal moral rules exist in this category? Everyone seems to have their own morals and thats after cultural, regional, country or religion. Some people believe religion give you your morals! Different cultures even if they dont believe in a religion still believe in certain modesty rules including when a woman is ok to speak/interfere! Many perfect societies have been dreamed up if everyone could be forced to be the same but that is of 1 persons morality when everyone has their own.

            "respect for human life. If nobody respected human life we would perish as a race"

            Are you sure? When human life is cheap and abundant? How much human life has been killed off and even with a moral standing not including war? You think the communists didnt think they were moral as people starved? People trying to save others souls because it is morally right regardless of the religion? Or the morality of protecting your own by removing the lives of those who have no regard for others?

            "And your last statement - no it’s not ok. The fact that it happens, doesn’t make it ok."

            To somebody. But to others it is moral. Every time someone knocks on my door to save my soul and bring me to christ or on the street to bring me to allah or anywhere even online to tell me my political leaning is immoral to them because I do not agree with their position which may be demonstrated to kill people. Oddly all kinds of things can be morally justified even if it will be bad.

            To save the many we need to take away X freedom. Oh no they adapted we must remove Y freedom. Its for our own good of course. There is a reason this is known as the thin end of the wedge. Or the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And some of the scariest ideas have been morally brought about. Some of the worst atrocities. And because it feels moral or can be justified morally people get sucked into it, good people get sucked into it. And they may feel they are right all along, or they may pass a point and realise it is too far. But it was moral and some will still believe it is even if it involves killing people.

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: @ Lord Elpuss

              @ codejunky

              Happy to talk more on this tomorrow (it’s late now) but in the meantime i suggest a read up on Kant’s Categorical Imperative - four examples of universal morality. From memory these are Suicide, Lying, stealing and one other - I forget. Google for ‘Four examples Categorixal Imperative’.

              Cheers LE

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: @ Lord Elpuss

                @ Lord Elpuss

                That is an interesting idea I may read more of Kant later if I get the chance. However assuming I am reading it correctly he proposed a different moral system which comes back to his version or view of morality which is not necessarily compatible with anothers morality.

                Btw I am not in any way agreeing with the govs actions, I just dont believe in the words moral or fair as they can be used to argue almost anything.

                1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

                  Re: @ Lord Elpuss

                  Fair enough, it’s not my place to convince you one way or the other ;) Kant’s definitely worth a read, I tend to agree with the general gist of universal morality but can certainly see why others may not. He can get very esoteric and some of the examples are a little... weird.

                  Anyway - have a read and see what you think.

                  Cheers LE

  3. Oh Homer
    Big Brother

    Defeating Draconian laws

    There's due process, which is the route CAGE is taking, but I'm not hopeful. A rational and humanitarian regime would not have introduced such Draconian legislation to begin with. Reversing it will require nothing short of replacing the very foundations of our extremist political system. Good luck with that.

    Meanwhile, Rabbani and others can save themselves a lot of hassle by using more clandestine methods to protect their privacy.

    It turns out that the old cliché about "security through obscurity" is sadly wrong, given the "rubber hose decryption" era we now live in. Certainly if obscurity is the only layer of "security" then it patently isn't secure, but it is now an essential layer nonetheless.

    Encryption is no longer sufficient. Now you also need to hide the encryption. In this scenario I'd recommend whole disk encryption with a hidden volume, with the outer volume containing a "dummy" OS suitably seeded with innocuous data, and the "real" (hidden) inner volume containing the real OS and data.

    The upshot is that when Plod (or more likely these days some private contractor with a badge and a gun) demands your password, you happily give it to him, and he decrypts and views a whole bag of nothing (substantial), but it's a sufficiently believable bag of nothing that he doesn't even go looking for the real contents, has no way to prove that a hidden container even exists, and would have no way of decrypting it even if he suspects he might be looking at one.

    No it doesn't address the underlying political issue, but in these dark times it's probably the best you can hope for.

    1. robbie rob

      Re: Defeating Draconian laws

      Truecrypt or similar?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        "Truecrypt or similar?"

        Several of these packages put the hidden volume at the end of the disk, reading inwards, so a knowledgeable operator can detect the presence. Likewise when the filesystem reports a size substantially smaller than the physical drive's capacity.

        The better solution for carrying sensitive information through hostile territory on a laptop or phone is "don't", when you can simply transmit it later.

        Alternatively if you're not facing a strip search, 256GB of data fits on a microSD card and a few of those could be stuffed virtually anywhere (including Papillion's charger)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        "After all, "normal" people don't fill their hard disks with random data, do they?"

        Speak for yourself. So what if I choose to not delete but _wipe_ stuff I no longer need, and that includes periodic "wipe free space" passes? So what if I happen to believe multiple passes of random data are preferable to a uniform same-byte overwrite because it may make reading residual traces of overwritten data harder to read (regardless of whether that's actually true or not)? Is that illegal? Can you say for sure that's not ALL I'm doing there?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        Before coming to the UK, I do a secure erase of my laptop SSD

        Seem to recall reading an article that said not to do that as it'll shorten the life of the SSD due to all the wear levelling and such that happens. Better to have an encrypted disk whereby a quick format will do the same by removing the encryption key - depending on your choice of OS.

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: Defecating on Draconian laws

          Surveillance State, I fart in your general direction...

    3. sean.fr

      Re: Defeating Draconian laws

      Security 101, do not keep the password with the encrypted data .

      Arrange for the password to be held by a third party in another country.

      After you arrive safely, unencrypt. When you are stopped at the border, you explain you do not have password so you can not comply. Let them phone the person who does have the key. Ideally this should be a lawer or a respectable association, or at least someone less likely to have dawn raid.

      Better still, carry the key in person, and send the data over the internet later. A well implimented One Time Pad is unbreakable because there is no pattern to find.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        Except, one, consider tight data caps, and two, what if the cops confiscate your pad...BEFORE you can use it?

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        Arrange for the password to be held by a third party ...

        But how do you prove that you do not have/know the password yourself ? That's the problem, the only defence is that you don't have it, and that's something that is not provable - the prosecution don't have to prove that you do have it.

        So yes, the absurdity of the law goes as far as you being found guilty because you can't prove that you don't know something which you don't know.

        Hence, when this absurdity of a law came out, there were suggestions about emailing (or otherwise getting it onto their computer) an encrypted file to someone (any politician who voted for it would be a good start) and then tipping off the police that they had something to hide.

        1. sean.fr

          Re: Defeating Draconian laws

          It is easy to show to an acceptable level you do not have the password, by having the person who has the password, saying what they did, and why, by phone and email. Preferrably, with a newspaper on copy. You can pre-plan they wipe the key if you do not arrive problem free.

          Note, if the data is on a micro SD, you are less likely have an issue, as they are just so small.

          If you are CAGE and planning to take US solders to court for war crimes, or are the partner of a journalist talking to Snowden, you will already be on the list for a home visit.

          If you were not before, having good security practices at the airport is likely to put you on the home visit list and possibly on the no fly list. Piss off the man at your own risk.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        A well implimented One Time Pad is unbreakable because there is no pattern to find

        A genuine One Time Pad is indistinguishable from encrypted data. They'll expect you to provide the "key" on demand. And if you don't, you'll be in the clink.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Defeating Draconian laws

      It's been proven that hidden volumes are detectable and "fairly" easy to find to those that know what they are looking for. Maybe not for your average grunt, but serious agencies can find them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        It's been proven that hidden volumes are detectable and "fairly" easy to find to those that know what they are looking for. Maybe not for your average grunt, but serious agencies can find them.

        Link, reference, article? AFAIK, things like Veracrypt (Truecrypt v2) had quite a bit of review from people who know what they're doing. I don't need it, but out of professional interest I would still like to know if this is fact or a deliberately spread rumour to make criminal doubt it's useful.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Defeating Draconian laws

          This is an older one, but there are others:

          https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01056376/document

          also this has some brief summary:

          http://www.forensicswiki.org/wiki/TrueCrypt#Hidden_volumes

          The general idea is pattern matching and looking for anomalies in the storage. One way of reducing this apparently is to make sure you use the hidden partition as much as the normal partition as it creates more noise.

          Unfortunately the guy who I worked with who could it explain it much better left for a much better paid job!

          1. JohnSmith2589

            Re: Defeating Draconian laws

            You link to a wikipedia page as evidence? :|

          2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: Defeating Draconian laws

            This is an older one, but there are others:

            https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01056376/document

            also this has some brief summary:

            http://www.forensicswiki.org/wiki/TrueCrypt#Hidden_volumes

            The first is interesting, but assumes that the decoy OS contains "restore points" that has copied parts of the encrypted data of the hidden volume. This is in fact pretty unlikely seeing that the decoy OS will quite possibly not have any restore points, and if it has there is no reason to believe that any restore point would copy data from a part of the HDD that the decoy OS sees as free space. It in any case assumes that the OS is Windows Vista or later, and the best choice for a dummy OS would definitely be Windows XP.

            The second is complete nonsense, as it depends on the hidden OS writing data to the decoy OS while it is running, when in fact the hidden OS has no access to the decoy OS so applications running on the hidden OS could never write "e.g. filenames" to the decoy OS.

            The thing I was thinking of is that a dummy OS would (a) have a FAT32 file system and (b) not have any recognisable file fragments beyond the limit of a fairly low sector of the HDD. While a HDD that has both these attributes would raise suspicions, they are far from being proof that a hidden OS exists. At best they show that a hidden OS *could* exist

        2. Oh Homer
          Headmaster

          Re: "hidden volumes are detectable"

          The two provided articles are non sequitur.

          The first concerns forensic evidence of hidden containers within a running OS, such as VSS records, and has no bearing on booting into a secondary hidden volume, which the OS on the first outer volume knows nothing about (and thus contains zero forensic evidence).

          The second is merely an assumption that, whilst booted into a hidden volume, the user might choose to write plaintext data somewhere outside of that volume, leaving a forensic trail that somehow proves the existence of the hidden volume. This is highly speculative, not particularly common (I've personally never heard of anyone doing that), and such an obvious blunder that it's very unlikely that anyone who would go to the effort of setting up an encrypted hidden OS would do it.

          Nothing is ever perfectly secure, but I've seen nothing in those articles that would lead me to question the security of properly executed hidden volumes.

      2. JohnSmith2589

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        I'm dying to hear how they could "fairly" easily find out a random chunk of data on your harddrive is in fact an encrypted volume. Got a source?

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        "

        It's been proven that hidden volumes are detectable and "fairly" easy to find to those that know what they are looking for.

        "

        Not true. You can show that a hidden volume is possible, and might even show that it is likely to exist, but there is no way to prove BRD that it *does* exist.

        But that's beside the point - in the scenario where a goon at a border post demands your password, and you give him a password that unlocks the computer showing a perfectly ordinary & popular OS containing innocuous data, the goon is unlikely to start doing a raw sector analysis of the HDD in order to see whether a hidden volume might exist.

      4. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        "It's been proven that hidden volumes are detectable..."

        There are indeed bugs and operational errors that can reveal them. In the absence of these, it's very hard to prove the existence of such a volume unless you have an opportunity to repeatedly image the disk.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Defeating Draconian laws

      Yup exactly what I do. I have a second Apple account populated with minimal (but plausible) data, and always restore to this before travelling to the 3rd world (US, UK etc). Then I just restore my real account when I’m at my destination.

      Consider it a game and it can be quite fun.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: Defeating Draconian laws

        I have a second Apple account

        Are you saying that Apple are not subject to the Patriot act ?

  4. Chris Miller

    Obligatory xkcd

  5. LiarLiarLiar
    Thumb Up

    He should have just emailed it to himself encypted of course

    really with the internet there are so many ways to move data, then just carry a clean travel phone. and for the laptop, send all the data over the internet, do a secure delete of data on laptop and restore to a factory reset before coming back to the country.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: He should have just emailed it to himself encypted of course

      What about tight data caps?

      1. sean.fr

        Re: He should have just emailed it to himself encypted of course

        Data caps in the western world are not an issue. Most of us have ASDL or fibre. Plus a monthly unlimited 4G phone with data contract phone is about 30 pounds in the UK and 16 euros in France. There are also data sims for one off needs. For the less well served there is Starbucks and MacDo. You are likely to find such a hotspot in the Airport at each end of your trip.

        If you are going to a place without internet "all that you can eat", they are probably not going to give a hard time at the airport to open you PC, except perhaps North Korean.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: He should have just emailed it to himself encypted of course

          Data caps in the western world are not an issue.

          They may not be an issue for you personally. They are an issue for a lot of others - with many countries and operators, both fixed and mobile, your "unlimited" data plans get throttled once you reach a certain data volume [e.g. my cable data gets throttled past 2TB/month; my wireless data gets throttled past 50 Mb/month (I am too cheap to pay more than EUR 5 for a data plan)]. Furthermore, in many western countries, "unlimited" wireless plans cost a a lot more than 30 quid a month, if they are available at all - take a look at the wireless data pricing in the US or (shudder) Canada.

          In most of the world (western or otherwise - I travel a fair bit, and I do not see much of a difference between western countries and places like China, Thailand, or Russia in terms of the wireless internet infrastructure), it is usually not a problem transferring a few gigabytes from your base. If that's all you need - fantastic, and congratulations. If you need more data, carrying it with you is frequenty the only practical alternative.

        2. Oh Homer

          Re: Cloning my HDD to the Cloud in Starbucks

          That'd have to be one helluva big cup o' coffee, at least round these parts, as it'd probably take about a week for a full backup.*

          * Based on a typical 1TB laptop HDD, and the average UK internet speed of 16.5 Mb/s.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what would have been the case

    If he'd dumped all his content, encrypted, in the cloud and committed the URL to memory?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what would have been the case

      If he'd dumped all his content, encrypted, in the cloud and committed the URL to memory?

      That's something one would and should consider going to a repressive police state - something along the lines of Iran, North Korea[*], Russia, or the United States. But the do-goody, soft, and cuddly blighty? We live and we learn.

      [*] May be pointless for this one though - unless you cross the border by submarine, norks'll confiscate your phone and everything else that looks likes comms equipment. To be fair, they do return the stuff when you leave ...

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: So what would have been the case

        "To be fair, they do return the stuff when you leave ..."

        After having it the hands of a hostile government entity, would you trust it to NOT have some unwanted passengers onboard?

        In such a case the only sensible option would be to drop it in a bin before you leave the airport.

    2. JohnSmith2589

      Re: So what would have been the case

      If I'm ever going to the UK, this is what I would do: Upload everything to MEGA and then logout. When you're at the hotel or whatever you log back into MEGA and download everything. The border police won't ask you for your MEGA password, they don't get paid enough for that. And even if they do, just say you haven't made an account yet.

      1. IT Poser

        Re: The border police won't ask you for your MEGA password,

        What is MEGA?

        What do you mean I should know? Let me have my computer, I need to Ask Jeeves.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Damn it, 1984 was not a How To Guide!

    Stop treating it as your fucking ToDo list of shit to accomplish!

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Damn it, 1984 was not a How To Guide!

      to be fair, it WAS based in britain. Mr E Blair was quite good at understanding his government's ideals

    2. Justin Case
      Headmaster

      Re: Damn it, 1984 was not a How To Guide!

      It's about time people stopped using this line.

      I think I first spotted a variant of it last century. It ain't original and its utterance marks you out as a failed wannabe wag.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: Damn it, 1984 was not a How To Guide!

        You will note that the appendix "The Principles of Newspeak" is written, in Oldspeak, in the past tense.

        Even the most authoritarian of regimes will not endure.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Damn it, 1984 was not a How To Guide!

          Even the most authoritarian of regimes will not endure.

          To quote CS Lewis:

          “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

          Few, if any, in Westminster are there because they wish to be despots. The great majority are there because they wish to serve, but once inside the Westminster bubble they lose track of mundane reality(*) and their idea of serving becomes protecting an abstract "the people" from an abstract "the enemy", which regrettably must be done by temporarily restricting a few freedoms for the greater good. Those freedoms will, of course, be restored as soon as possible after the problem is solved.

          (*) I've seen this happen to someone I used to be close to. It's not pretty but every step on the way they were convinced they were doing the right thing.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: Damn it, 1984 was not a How To Guide!

            "

            Those freedoms will, of course, be restored as soon as possible after the problem is solved.

            "

            Yes. In the same way that the imposition of income tax on the general population was a temporary measure needed to finance the Napoleonic war, which the people were promised would be rescinded as soon as that cost had been covered ...

      2. Mr Humbug

        I am confused

        Try this one:

        The government wants Huxley's Brave New World, is actually building Orwell's 1984, but will end up creating 2000AD's Mega City One

  8. robbie rob

    Since when has "you have the right to remain silent" = "you are a terrorist" ???

    What the hell?

    Seriously, privacy seems to be under increasing pressure. Why? If the judge thinks privacy is no longer "allowed", then perhaps the judge can publish their credit card details online, and we can see what happens next. Hmm?

    Never. Gonna. Happen.

    Because there is one set of rules for them, and another set for everyone else. Total BS.

    And not to want to dig too deeply, but has it occurred to anyone that the only reason he was targeted this time was at the request of another power to get a hold of the information he obtained overseas? I would not have thought it possible in this age of democracy that our own government would oppress a traveler and inflict yet greater degrees of profiling. It beggars belief.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Belief beggared and beyond.

      " ... It beggars belief."

      Unfortunately, it does not and hasn't for a number of years. !!!

      In the never ending 'Fight against Terror' (tm) privacy and rights are somewhat fluid.

      [In the sense of water running down a drain and once gone never seen again !!!]

      The 'Great Unwashed' are being conditioned to give away their privacy daily and this means that less and less people will care.

      This is not even really about protecting sources etc but about the loss of the right to privacy when you have NOT committed any crime or wrongdoing.

      Guilt/Innocence is a factor that is not of concern anymore, just whether you have something that certain powers want !!!

      1984 is looking like a desirable paradigm to stop at as we are trying to exceed the definition each day more and more.

      All Governments regardless of 'flavour' are grabing more and more power/rights to exploit their own citizens.

      Terrorists WILL eventually be defeated even if by no other method than the original instigators of the flawed Ideas/Teachings etc simply die and the fervour is dissapated by time.

      Governments on the other hand simply 'roll on' and what has 'always been' continues Year to Year/Political Term to Political Term.

      Few Governments target reducing their powers as the norm.

      Don't worry though ..... with President Trump & Kim Jung Un (AKA 'Little Rocket Man') we may have other things to be concerned about in the shorter term. !!!

      1. M man

        Re: Belief beggared and beyond.

        Elon musk suggest no law should ever have an eternal term.

        I thought thats stupid...

        Now im not so sure..

    2. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: Since when has "you have the right to remain silent" = "you are a terrorist"

      "You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence." - Criminal Justice and Public Order Act

      You haven't had the right to silence since 1994. You don't have to speak, but you'll be considered guilty if you don't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Since when has "you have the right to remain silent" = "you are a terrorist"

        1794 ?

      2. Unoriginal Handle

        Re: Since when has "you have the right to remain silent" = "you are a terrorist"

        "You haven't had the right to silence since 1994. You don't have to speak, but you'll be considered guilty if you don't."

        Not quite. You still have the right to remain silent. But if you go "no comment" in an interview then drag something up in court which you knew but didn't mention during or after the interview, the court can infer adverse things from it.

        You will be considered innocent, in the court's eyes, unless there is evidence beyond reasonable doubt that you are guilty. And it's the police service's job to find that evidence, not yours to provide evidence of innocence.

        That said, I do think in the case referred to in the article that it's stretching things to suspect the gent involved of terrorism when apparently all he's done is to interview someone with potential evidence of US involvement in torture, in a similar manner to David Miranda's detention some years ago at Heathrow.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Since when has "you have the right to remain silent" = "you are a terrorist"

        Not many people know this, but you can decline a police interrogation. PACE prohibits them dragging you to the interrogation room (and most likely holding cell.)

        So unless they bring the interrogation to you with a tape recorder and actually question you, adverse inference doesn't apply. This was established in the case of R vs. Hind (2005).

    3. CanadianMacFan

      It's not the judge's fault

      I don't know why you are so upset at the judges. They are stuck in what their actions. They apply the rules of law that were written by the politicians. The only way that a judge can overturn a law is if one side, usually the defence, makes an argument that the law in question violates a right or freedom or breaks another law. It doesn't sound like that's how the defence argued the case this time so the law still stands. The judge is unable to do research on their own on matters unrelated to evidence not presented in the case.

      You should be directing your anger towards the politicians who created the law in the first place and those who have failed to repeal it.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: It's not the judge's fault

        So what happens if every judge stands up and says - "I refuse to try a case with such an obviously bad law"?

        Do they all go to the camps, or are we saving that for after we get rid of the ECHR?

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: It's not the judge's fault

          "

          So what happens if every judge stands up and says - "I refuse to try a case with such an obviously bad law"?

          "

          Then that judge would be excused and another judge who *is* prepared to apply the law is substituted. It would be a bad thing because eventually all the reasonable judges would be forced to resign, leaving only the hard-liner establishment lackeys.

          The correct and legal way for a judge to show that s/he disagrees with the law would be to find the defendant guilty as required, but then impose a ridiculously lenient sentence - e.g. a conditional or absolute discharge. No doubt the prosecution would then appeal the sentence (which will take a while, by which time the defendant may well have left the country).

          However a *jury* can decide that the law is wrong and refuse to convict no matter what the evidence. The only way that could be prevented is to not allow jury trials.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: It's not the judge's fault

            "a *jury* can decide that the law is wrong and refuse to convict no matter what the evidence. The only way that could be prevented is to not allow jury trials."

            Which is effectively the case in the trial at hand - no jury.

      2. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

        Re: It's not the judge's fault

        the magistrate is spineless or malign. sec 7 is for investigation of terrorism. at no time has this guy been accused of terrorism, therefore he doesn't have to comply. police state bullying, plenty more where this came from.

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      "you have the right to remain silent"

      Who told you you have it in the UK?

      UK does not have fundamental rights and more specifically presumption of innocence and right to not self-incriminate.

      It is a side effect of UK being the only other country besides Saudi Arabia which does not have a proper written constitution. Parliament is sovereign and shall not be bound. As a result when the governing party decides to sneak yet another erosion of rights into law books there is nothing there to stop it except the EUCHR and EUHR convention. You now know why Josephina Vissarionovna May is so desperate to get us out of it. By the way, a UK Bill of Rights is not a replacement, because it will be amended and eroded the same way the original Bill of Rights was amended over the years. Via "Parliament is Sovereign and shall not be bound".

      1. Paul Kinsler

        UK [...] does not have a proper written constitution.

        I'm not sure NZ can claim a "proper written constitution" either, based on this url:

        https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/lawtalk/lawtalk-archives/issue-890/towards-a-written-constitution-for-new-zealand

        Excerpt: "the New Zealand constitution was located in 45 acts of Parliament (including six very old English acts), 12 international treaties, nine areas of common law, eight constitutional conventions, three and a half executive orders, one prerogative instrument, one legislative instrument and half a judicial instrument."

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: UK [...] does not have a proper written constitution.

          "I'm not sure NZ can claim a "proper written constitution" either,"

          It can't.

          The NZ constitution act(1986 one, not the 1852 one) was debated, modified, voted and passed, but not put into law before the parliamentary session ended for the year. It was supposed to be one of the first items on the agenda at the next parliamentary session.

          Guess which bill mysteriously disappeared from the "put into law" TODO pile during that hiatus when it was realised that many things the NZ government and police do routinely would no longer be legal.

          http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1986/0114/latest/DLM94204.html

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Who told you you have it in the UK?"

        Remaining silent is a double-edged sword.

        If the police are on a "fishing expedition" then they need you to answer questions to give them something they can portray as "evidence" of involvement in a crime - or to incriminate the main subjects of their investigation.

        If you are innocent - and the police have nothing they can claim as solid evidence for a charge - then a solicitor may advise you to remain silent.

        However if they have apparently solid evidence that you can refute then it may be best to do so. A relatively recent law change allows a court to take a dim view of your later refutation at a trial.

      3. Nicko

        Saudi Arabia has a constitution (of sorts): See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Law_of_Saudi_Arabia

        The UK has the laws of Tort, which are basically a historical record of judgments which act as precedent in protecting individual rights.

        Several other democratic countries follow suit: New Zealand, Canada & Israel.

    5. julian_n

      What - you mean like David Miranda?

      Nah - couldn't happen.

    6. Oh Homer
      Terminator

      Re: 'Since when has "you have the right to remain silent" = "you are a terrorist"'

      Since Tony Blair introduced a series of increasingly totalitarian Terrorism Acts that essentially revoked the Right to Silence.

      Unfortunately, as you may be shocked to discover, the UK (and, in passing, the US) has quite literally been a Police State for at least the past two decades.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Profiling is the last resort of the coward

    A pox on all their houses.

  10. Curtis

    Just make the password "fuckoffyoubloodywankers" - you get to insult the plod while providing them the exact password, which they'll never try because you just gave it to them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      or

      "SetTimeToLaunchTo1800Minutes!"

      See....secure password.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is the CAGE that defends the rights of terrorists like Jihadi John and others, so any scrutiny they get is fine by me.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Jihadi Johny being one of the London Rubber Company's less successful branding efforts

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is the CAGE that defends the rights of terrorists like Jihadi John and others, so any scrutiny they get is fine by me.

      And so we inevitably reach the point in this discussion where the Niemöller's poem must be recited:

      Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Kommunist.

      Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

      Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten, habe ich nicht protestiert; ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

      Als sie die Juden holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Jude.

      Als sie mich holten, gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.

      Either everybody has a right to due process, privacy, and enjoyment of life - or nobody does. It's that simple; so make your choice, but remember that one day it might be about you.

      1. Bloodbeastterror

        Martin Niemöller

        @AC - you beat me to it...

        For those who don't read German, because it's an important quotation:

        https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392

        First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —

        because I was not a Socialist.

        Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —

        because I was not a Trade Unionist.

        Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —

        because I was not a Jew.

        Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Martin Niemöller

          @ Bloodbeastterror

          The problem is this isnt just a government problem. Apparently no-platforming is ok now in the UK, I thought this was just a US problem. Rights and freedoms have been removed considerably for a while with labels replacing thought. We have had this teaching of how not to think in schools for a while now and just look at the intolerance and tribalism for brexit or elections with actions being worth less than labels.

          Our perception so skewed that we are part of a war on terror. I urge anyone to look up steve hughes war on terror if you want to know why it is so insanely daft. It justifies anything.

          What worries me is that it doesnt matter which side of the political spectrum you are on the intolerance of other views is intolerance plain and simple no matter how it is justified. Unfortunately I find pointing this out causes labels of 'far right' by those intolerant of other views.

          People are unfortunately coming around to the idea that it is ok to actively support coming after people under certain labels as long as the person agrees that label is intolerable.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      This is the CAGE that defends the rights of terrorists like Jihadi John

      Even if he was the late Bearded Wanker Johnny himself, this does not free us from the obligation to apply due process and the list of various rights (which do not exist in Britain anyway[*]) such as presumption of innocence, right not to self incriminate, etc. This is what makes us fundamentally different from Bearded Wanker Johnny and his mates. By the way do not even get me started on his extra-judicial termination without an appropriate death penalty in absentia being served onto him by court.

      [*]The only concept of fundamental right in English law comes from the EUHR convention. There is NO other right which is considered fundamental and irrevocable - something which "Parliament is Sovereign and Shall Not Be Bound" has proven by amending the original Bill of Rights of 1689 until there is nothing left of it. Reading it is a very educational experience for anyone claiming that UK has a stable legal system and a rule of law.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "The only concept of fundamental right in English law comes from the EUHR convention."

        And the ironic part about THAT is that whilst comrade May raves on about european control over UK laws, the EUHR was _written_ by the UK government at the end of WW2.

    4. PhilDin

      Scrutiny might be warranted and prudent but assuming that Jihadi John is a British citizen, he should have the same rights as any other British citizen. Defending someone's rights means telling the organs of the state to obey the law and this is good for everyone, including the organs of the state.

      If Jihadi John accidentally stabs himself multiple times whilst shaving then I won't feel bad for him but I don't want members of the security services thinking they are entitled to break the law to punish him. If CAGE keeps them honest that's a good thing.

      Just to be a bit pious, here's a favourite quote of mine:

      "And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you--where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast--man's laws, not God's--and if you cut them down...d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.”

      Thomas More

      1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

        "Scrutiny might be warranted and prudent but assuming that Jihadi John is a British citizen, he should have the same rights as any other British citizen."

        Last time I checked, murdering people and inciting racial and/or religious hatred are against British law so Jihadi John and his cronies have chosen to ignore the protections said laws offer other people. And if they think the law doesn't protect others then they should not expect the rest of us to let them hide behind those same laws. Either the protection exists or it does not.

        Jihadi John and his "friends" think it is acceptable to kill people just for disagreeing with them, so by the "same rights" logic it is more than acceptable that they should be targeted with extreme prejudice too...

        "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and all that.

  12. scrubber

    Send him back where he comes from...

    "He comes from London."

    Exactly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Send him back where he comes from...

      you cruel bastard!

  13. scrubber
    Big Brother

    Cardinal Richelieu

    Why not just pass a law making not writing a full confession illegal?

    1. Joe Werner

      Re: Cardinal Richelieu

      They are getting there, aren't they?

  14. DougS Silver badge

    Copy the real (encrypted) data into the cloud

    Then download an image prepared for border transit. Encrypted with the password "fuckoffyoupigs" that you will happily provide. Containing a huge messy directory structure and a million small files, all of which contain a few keywords that will trigger their automated tools and flag them for human assessment. They'll say stuff like "sorry there's nothing about ISIS, Al Qaeda or bombs in this file, but here's my favorite cookie recipe".

    Bonus points if you hack the directory structure to create loops and other traps designed to crash their forensic tools, so they have to dig through 100 directory deep structures manually!

    Perhaps an open source crowdsourcing effort could help create such an image so we don't all have to go to so much effort to create our own.

    1. julian_n

      Re: Copy the real (encrypted) data into the cloud

      42.zip may have an interesting effect.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Copy the real (encrypted) data into the cloud

        When creating your dummy image, ensure to associate common file-types with explorer.exe

        Also, use KeePass and keep the database file in the cloud or at home (where they would need a warrant to get it) or basically somewhere where you have to phone someone to access it for you to give you the extremely long and impossible to remember password.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a "calculated risk" in not providing passcodes to the police

    "The importance of passwords and privacy cannot be overstated in the 21st century". Fuck that.

    "He was also of good character" Fuck that too.

    Essentially: "If we don't like what you do, but can't find ANYTHING on you, we can always use THIS little useful law that we created and approved ourselves!

  16. alain williams Silver badge

    What a good thing that he was not coming into Catalonia

    where they might have wanted to search his laptop to look for illegal opinions such as wanting to separate from Spain. At least the UK law is only used to stop people who might kill people; they will never use it to search people who have political opinions that the government of the day does not like.

    </sarcasm>

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah but

    He's brown and has a beard

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You like my Data?

    Step 1: bring a laptop with usb spreading virus that replaces every media with the same file

    Step 2: Search for RickRoll video for the virus

    Step 3: Give laptop to authority

    Step 4: ????

    Step 5: Profit. Authority has been RickRoll'd.

  19. bungle42
    Go

    Possible Solution?

    You video yourself stood behind your laptop while a firend/colleague explains that they are changing the password and will send this to you after you arrive safely at your destination. You then post the video on YouTube before leaving and give the authorities the URL if stopped.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Possible Solution?

      Your destination has been changed to this holding cell: you may 'phone your colleague now.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dual boot?

    Blah bolah blahblah

  21. David Lawrence

    Micro SD cards....

    ...are really tiny and so easy to conceal under a lapel, in your shoe, in a trouser pocket, in a pack of chewing gum etc etc. 128gb is so cheap these days, and should be plenty. You could even conceal one in the lid of a normal USB memory stick. Hide in plain sight, keep it simple. Makes a total mockery of a law that already makes us a total mockery.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Micro SD cards....

      Except they're made of METAL. Meaning they'll be noticed by a metal detector meaning you could get frisked or worse. And carry-ons DO get x-rayed which could give them away.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Micro SD cards....

        Except they're made of METAL.

        Not really a problem if they're in something that is metal or has electronics: an electronic car key, for example.

        Except, as is standard spy practice, the spy will never being carrying sensitive information with them because, even if it's encrypted and you don't have the key, the authorities might well consider beating the crap out of you to get it anyway. Meanwhile the mule, who the spy doesn't know and doesn't know the spy has carried whatever is needed through or around screening.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Micro SD cards....

        "Except they're made of METAL."

        Not much and not enough to trrigger a metal detector (the big ones go off on ferrous metals and have to be desensitised to allow for 3-4kg of iron in your blood). The wands are also unlikely to be triggered.

        You could take a leaf from Gibson and carry obsidian knives...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Micro SD cards....

          What about the newer detectors that can detect nonferrous materials as well? I believe some are x-ray based so can detect nigh anything non-obvious on your person while others can detect traces.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Micro SD cards....

      " Micro SD cards.... ...are really tiny and so easy to conceal [...]"

      Which is why dogs are being trained to sniff them out in searches.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Micro SD cards....

        Which is why dogs are being trained to sniff them out in searches.

        Which is why, if you think that you will be picked out, you shouldn't be carrying anything. That said you can always carry more than one of them. They're also small enough to be swallowed.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Micro SD cards....

          What's to stop you having an entire basked of the little buggers? Some of them could even work and have rude messages on them.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Micro SD cards....

            What's to stop them pulling you out and checking EVERY ONE of them? Remember, they're not required to let you pass.

            As for holding it in say a car key, it'll still be detected and you'll be forced to get it x-rayed. How do you slip a MicroSD card through an x-ray undetected without tripping alarm bells for using some kind of concealment?

  22. hoola

    Being a smart-arse

    The issue with much of the advice given here is that ultimately, if the security people do believe that you are hiding something because you have tried to be clever, you are in a much worse position. Whilst I do not necessarily agree that one should hand over passwords or unlock a device when requested, sometimes acquiescing to the request is a bloody sight simpler and safer than not.

    If you have a work laptop full of confidential material, then the likelihood is that they are not interested anyway. If you are working for EDF at Hinckley Point and travelling to Iran then you probably should be of interest, likewise on return.

    It is all about the risk profile, put more markers up and the interest mount exponentially.

    Get your down votes ready but this is the reality. Bluster on a forum can look good but when you are there, being asked questions by security people, unless you have something to hide, co-operation can go a long way.

  23. Aodhhan Bronze badge

    Seriously... with the double standards

    Quit griping, whining and crying. You may not like it, but face it... you put yourself into the predicament. Do you complain when they look thru your backpack or luggage? No, because you know it's part of the traveling routine when you go thru customs. You can be upset all you like, but it comes down to common sense, and understanding that governments will always protect themselves and their people.

    Look... if you don't like the laws of a country, then don't go there. There are many laws in every country enacted to protect the people and the government. Whether you disagree with it, doesn't matter.

    I don't hear people griping because Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia or China (who all have similar laws) made them unlock their electronic device.

    Let's talk common sense. If you travel with confidential documents on your device you're an idiot. These devices are too easily lost or stolen. Given enough time, the person who controls the device also controls the info on it. You're better off setting up a VPN to a system which holds the files as you need them.

    If you're not friendly to a government then you're open season for this government and it's allies. You travel to another country, leave your laptop in your room to go eat, shop, sight see... whatever, then don't be shocked if 3 months later your AV picks up unique spyware on your computer. Likely placed there by a country's intel agency. Or at least... they looked thru it and possibly downloaded something while you were out of your room. This isn't limited to shady governments; this happens with ALL of them.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Seriously... with the double standards

      You can be upset all you like, but it comes down to common sense, and understanding that governments will always protect themselves and their people.

      The road to hell is paved with good intentions…

      The US Constitution is also replete with examples of why you cannot and should not blindly trust the government.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Seriously... with the double standards

        "The US Constitution is also replete with examples of why you cannot and should not blindly trust the government."

        Upon which you're reminded that the law, ANY law, in the end is simply ink on a page and at the mercy of the ultimate authorities in a country. That's why we have the term sovereign.

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Seriously... with the double standards

      Look... if you don't like the laws of a country, then don't go there.

      I'd just like to remind you that the subject of the article was a British citizen, returning to his own country.

    3. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Seriously... with the double standards

      "You can be upset all you like, but it comes down to common sense"

      Remind me again how many times this guy was stopped? Whilst you are at it, perhaps you could point out where they *ever* found anything incriminating. He's a human rights advocate and he is being bullied by the state, and you think complaining about that is griping?

      When they come for you no-one will speak up.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Seriously... with the double standards

        "When they come for you no-one will speak up."

        Because they'll grab EVERYONE at once. When they come for you, you WON'T be expecting them, even when you are.

  24. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Britain,

    a free country?

    I think not.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Britain,

      NO country is free, long-term. Any that are don't stay that way for long.

  25. B0rg
    Black Helicopters

    What does the law say about border staff circumventing things like password controls? Agree it's unlikely at present that there will be a good pen-tester employed at the border but... what if..

    As a crap example an old Win95 lappy, they boot into command prompt and rename the *.pwl file and then login? Can't remember if that works on 95, anyway using DMA or similar to change the password. Legal / Not?

    Have I just given them ideas? :-/

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      This hasn't been possible with Windows for a while. On unix you can do something similar with single user mode. Unless the disk has been encrypted, which has been standard practice in most companies for about 10 years.

    2. B0rg

      Not sure how asking a question warrants a down vote but - OK.

      My actual question remains unanswered - regardless of method used or whether it's viable or not - is it legal for them to bypass your security and view information when you refuse to hand over the password?

      Seems so for GCHQ with a warrant

      http://www.wired.co.uk/article/gchq-hacking-legal

      Probably not for your typical customs official tho.

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