Losing your keys…

Hurrah for George Orwell! How he would … smile? (isn’t is funny that his real name was Blair…?) 

As of Monday 1st October the previously non-functional part of the ‘Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) that dealy with decryption keys was activated. This means should you hold any encrypted information you may be required by law to offer up the decryption code (or the information thereby encrypted). Failure to do so can bring two to five years worth of H.M.Hostelry vouchers winging your way.

Under the Act, you are liable to be found guilty even if you have forgotten, deleted or indeed never had the decryption key… From time to time over the past nearly thirty years I’ve been playing with computers I’ve messed with encryption – not to hide stuff particularly but to learn about computing. I imagine somewhere there is a file I’ve encrypted but have noooooo idea now of the decryption key. I doubt I am alone.

On two occasions I have been required to sign the Official Secrets Act (the name’s bish, just bish, double O, nothing) and am therefore prevented by law from revealing certain stuff. How does one reconcile this conflict? And if someone anonymously sends me an encrypted file in an email that suggests I have the key, how am I going to plausibly deny any knowledge? If the email also suggests the file contains terrorist data or kiddypron, I’ll (you’ll) need more than a Monopoly ‘get out of jail’ card.

Of course, whenever there’s a bigger hammer there’s a stronger box… Truecrypt is a multi-level encryption device that has an inner and invisible data store while the outer (and solely evident data store) is readily decrypted to reveal inconsequential rubbish. The bomb plans are secure, their existence not even guessed at. Of course, I have no need of this tool either, but like the PGP experiments of my inquisitive youth it may be worth a download…

Hmm, Miss is reknown for losing her keys… think I ought to make that call? 🙂

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