The Trial of Franz Kafka

I’ve just been reading a very depressing article about the UK’s anti-human-rights laws being used to persecute an unfortunate schizophrenic man.

It’s a complicated story, but this individual has the distinction of being the first person convicted under the section of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) which makes it a criminal offence to fail to supply the police with decryption keys.

You can read the full item in The Register, [] but I can’t summarize better than to quote their first few paragraphs:

The first person jailed under draconian UK police powers that Ministers said were vital to battle terrorism and serious crime has been identified by The Register as a schizophrenic science hobbyist with no previous criminal record.His crime was a persistent refusal to give counter-terrorism police the keys to decrypt his computer files.

The 33-year-old man, originally from London, is currently held at a secure mental health unit after being sectioned while nearing completion of his sentence at Winchester Prison.

The part of RIPA concerning encryption is a “guilty until proven innocent” measure that actually makes it a crime to refuse to answer questions. However, it has never been used to prosecute terrorists, drug dealers or paedophiles.


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