A teenage takeaway worker has been jailed for four months for refusing to give child protection police the password to his computer.
Oliver Drage was originally arrested in May last year by a team of officers from Blackpool tackling child sexual exploitation.
The 19-year-old’s computer was seized but officers could not access material stored on it as it was protected by a sophisticated 50-character encryption password.
Drage, who worked in a fast food shop, was then formally requested to disclose the password, but failed to do so.
He was convicted after a trial last month of failing to disclose an encryption key, an offence covered by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
Yesterday at Preston Crown Court Drage, of Freckleton, Lancs., was sentenced to 16 weeks in a Young Offenders Institution.
Detective Sergeant Neil Fowler, of Lancashire Police, said: ‘Drage was previously of good character so the immediate custodial sentence handed down by the judge in this case shows just how seriously the courts take this kind of offence.
‘Computer systems are constantly advancing and the legislation used here was specifically brought in to deal with those who are using the internet to commit crime.
‘It sends a robust message out to those intent on trying to mask their online criminal activities that they will be taken before the courts with the ultimate sanction, as in this case, being a custodial sentence.’
Police are still trying to crack the code on Drage’s computer to find out its contents 17 months after they seized it.
A judge at Preston Crown Court was told Drage was originally arrested in May 2009 after police acting on a tip off during a probe into child exploitation searched his bedroom and suspected he had illegal material on his computer.
He later pleaded not guilty to the offence but at a trial last month a jury took less than 15 minutes to convict him.
The anti encryption laws were drawn up originally in 2006 after senior police officers warned ministers that their investigations into serious crime were being thwarted by safety technology, which conceals data held on computers.
They said terrorists and paedophiles were using devices available on the internet for as little as £20 to keep data on their computers hidden from the authorities.
In 2008 the then Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told the House of Commons the legal provisions for withholding passwords and encryption keys to hard drives came into force on 1 October 2007 and eight notices have been served on PC users – four of which had resulted in prosecutions all relating to terrorism activity.
Last year the first person jailed for not giving police access to encrypted material, was a 33-year old businessman known only as JFL.
He was not judged to be a threat to national security, and the encrypted material in question was not suspected of securing illegal material.
The man who ran a software company in London told a judge he was refusing to disclose the code on principle, on the basis that he should have a right to silence but was jailed for 13 months for refusing to hand over his decryption keys.
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:42 AM on 6th October 2010
Source: Daily Mail