UPDATE: Facebook has banned sharing the direct link to the article on Facebook, but thanks to the quick thinking of @AnarcKat you can share using this retro-futuristic QR code. Many thanks for a clever workaround!
Lauri Love, the 31-year-old activist, Cambridge electrical enginnering student, Cryptosphere contributor, and alleged hacktivist, is in court once again in a few hours, continuing his fight against UK and US government overreach. This case? It’s personal. It’s political. And it is deeply problematic.
In the statement from the Courage Foundation Love linked to is the following quote:
The UK is already one of the worst jurisdictions in the world in which to practice the basic human right to privacy, but it may be about to get even worse. In the case of Lauri Love, the National Crime Agency is making a grab for even more police powers. If it succeeds, anyone who uses encryption will be considered suspect under the law – a breathtaking reversal of the presumption of innocence. Lauri Love is fighting this case for the rights of all UK residents against excessive and abusive policing. Because the UK is a laboratory for these kinds of repressive policies, the case will also have wide-reaching repercussions internationally. Love must prevail.
Julian Assange, Publisher, WikiLeaks
RT has an excellent and concise outline of the case and interviews with Love and his US lawyer Tor Ekeland.
In October of 2013, his home was raided and the National Crime Agency seized a number of computers, phones, and other devices owned by the Love family. Some of those items have been returned after Love successfully fought the NCA in court, but many remain in police custody. The NCA refuses to release the devices until Love decrypts their encrypted drives. Note that this is all a civil case: Love faces no criminal charges in the UK. The demand to decrypt, therefore, amounts to a fishing expedition. The central truth of the Lauri Love civil case is that, unless Love wins, any person in the United Kingdom could be forced to decrypt any and all devices they own, at any time, whenever the government demands it, even if it does so without enough evidence to justify an arrest. The police could then sift through the devices for anything which might make a case against the owner, or they might just look at all your porn. And they may be doing all of it under orders from a foreign government.
Either way, this is overreach of the most fascist and dangerous variety.
After Edward Snowden’s revelations, we’ve seen more and more journalists starting to encrypt their communications – that’s a good thing. It seems that the UK government’s response is to set its sights on information it can’t read and try to compel decryption even in the absence of a criminal investigation. Lauri Love’s case is a vital test case in the fight for all of us to be able to protect our communication. Lauri deserves our support for the stand he’s taken and for trying to prevent a precedent that would endanger us all.
Sarah Harrison, Acting Director, The Courage Foundation
It is widely suspected (and certainly absolutely believed by a large number, including me) that the real puppet masters here are the FBI, who have several cases in the US pending against Love. There, he faces charges which could send him away for as much as 99 years, although the number keeps changing; it never goes down. The US government has made three extradition requests for Lauri Love, and there is little doubt they are keenly interested in the contents of those encrypted drives. The US charges related to Anonymous’ #OpLastResort, which was a payback-style stystematic hacking of many of the US government’s highest profile sites and databases, in retaliation for the government’s hounding of Aaron Swartz to the point of suicide.
Alarm bells should be ringing over this case. It has serious implications for journalists and others who must use encryption in the UK. The Apple case was all about digital backdoors – well in this case the NCA is effectively trying to legislate entirely new powers by a legal backdoor. This is something that should be publicly debated and carefully considered by Parliament, not off to the side in a civil property suit nobody is paying attention to. The NCA’s intentions are quite clear in their seeking to close down press access to the arguments in this case. And you can conjecture that the NCA isn’t doing this just because it wants to make life difficult for Lauri Love. It’s just like the FBI. Police always want less oversight and more power.
Gavin MacFadyen, Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism
Still, it would be mud on the face of the NCA and David Cameron’s British government if they were generally understood to be nothing more than the FBI’s errand boys, flouting the rights of the British people on UK soil, all at the whim of foreign powers. Mind you, back in the old Team Poison days, an MI6 operative scolded the prank-calling hacktivists, threatening to alert the FBI; that’s the international spy equivalent of “Wait till I tell your father!” and a telling statement of subordinacy.
So, maybe for the British and US governments it’s just business as usual.