A unjust bid by the National Crime Agency to use civil law to force an alleged cyber hacker to hand over encrypted computer passwords has been thrown out by a judge.
The agency (NCA) seized the computers during a raid at Love's home in October 2013. the authorities tried to shortcut lega safeguards in such cases by using an obscure civil law to extract the keys.
But this legal shortcut has now beem rejected by a district judge. Delivering her judgment at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court, District Judge Nina Tempia said the NCA should have used the normal police powers rather than a civil action to
obtain the information:
I'm not granting the application because, to obtain the information sought, the correct procedure to use - as the NCA did two-and-a-half years ago - is RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) and the inherent safeguards incorporated
thereafter, she said.
She added the powers of the court should not be used to circumnavigate existing laws and the safeguards.
The US is attempting to extradite Lauri Love on charges of hacking into the US Army, Nasa and US Federal Reserve networks.
The Five Eyes governments of the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have threatened the tech industry to voluntarily create backdoor access to their systems, or be compelled to by law if they don't.
The move is a final warning to platform holders such as WhatsApp, Apple and Google who deploy encryption to guarantee user privacy on their services. A statement by the Five Eyes governments says:
Encryption is vital to the digital economy and a secure cyberspace, and to the protection of personal, commercial and government information ...HOWEVER.. . the increasing use and sophistication of certain encryption designs present
challenges for nations in combating serious crimes and threats to national and global security.
Many of the same means of encryption that are being used to protect personal, commercial and government information are also being used by criminals, including child sex offenders, terrorists and organized crime groups to frustrate
investigations and avoid detection and prosecution.
If the industry does not voluntarily establish lawful access solutions to their products the statement continued, we may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures to guarantee entry.