The UK's Government Reviewer of Terrorism Laws is again advising the removal of legal safeguards around a controversial law that allows people to be jailed if they refuse police demands for forced decryption of their devices.
In what appears to be a recurring theme, Jonathan Hall QC said police should be able to threaten people arrested under terror laws with five years in prison if they don't hand over passwords on demand.
By recommending the creation of a new crime of failing to co-operate with police under the law, Hall would be calling for cops to operate with fewer controls on their behaviour if they wanted to search a terror suspect's phone.
We need to make it even easier for UK terror cops to rummage about in folks' phones, says govt lawyer
Section 49 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) allows police to demand the password for any device they "lawfully" acquire from a criminal suspect or witness. Refusal carries a two-year prison sentence, or five years in a "national security" case. These demands can be signed off by a district judge sitting in a magistrates' court. However, Hall described the judicial permission requirement as being "in no way suited to high pressure terrorism investigations" and went on to say in his annual report [ terror reviewer calls prison sentences suspects refuse passwords investigators