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Fighting child pornography through UK encryption law: a powerful weapon in the law's armoury?

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Fighting child pornography through UK encryption law : a powerful weapon in the law's armoury? / Chatterjee, Bela.

In: Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 4, 2012, p. 410-427.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

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@article{a5d0a23566fd46b5a25a40968ca6b403,
title = "Fighting child pornography through UK encryption law: a powerful weapon in the law's armoury?",
abstract = "Encryption works by scrambling digital images and documents, rendering them unintelligible without a key to return them to a comprehensible form. As modern encryption programmes have traditionally proved difficult to break without the key, there has been growing concern that by using encryption to hide their files, criminals will be able to evade investigations. Although the possibility of criminals in general hiding behind encryption is problematic, the risk is understood to be particularly acute in the context of sex offenders. Should such offenders use encryption and withhold the key, their trading and communication networks could be irrevocably hidden from view, as could millions of indecent images. A generic encryption offence was created by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 whereby the failure to surrender encryption keys upon demand would be subject to penalty, but recently – and of particular note – amendments by the Policing and Crime Act 2009 to the offence provide for escalated sentences where the circumstances of the investigation relate to child indecency. In light of these amendments, this article interrogates the necessity and validity of the revised RIPA powers as part of the child protection framework, and considers some alternatives to compelling the disclosure of keys.",
keywords = "child pornography, encryption, law, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, Policing and Crime Act 2009",
author = "Bela Chatterjee",
year = "2012",
language = "English",
volume = "4",
pages = "410--427",
journal = "Child and Family Law Quarterly",
issn = "1358-8184",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Fighting child pornography through UK encryption law

T2 - a powerful weapon in the law's armoury?

AU - Chatterjee, Bela

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - Encryption works by scrambling digital images and documents, rendering them unintelligible without a key to return them to a comprehensible form. As modern encryption programmes have traditionally proved difficult to break without the key, there has been growing concern that by using encryption to hide their files, criminals will be able to evade investigations. Although the possibility of criminals in general hiding behind encryption is problematic, the risk is understood to be particularly acute in the context of sex offenders. Should such offenders use encryption and withhold the key, their trading and communication networks could be irrevocably hidden from view, as could millions of indecent images. A generic encryption offence was created by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 whereby the failure to surrender encryption keys upon demand would be subject to penalty, but recently – and of particular note – amendments by the Policing and Crime Act 2009 to the offence provide for escalated sentences where the circumstances of the investigation relate to child indecency. In light of these amendments, this article interrogates the necessity and validity of the revised RIPA powers as part of the child protection framework, and considers some alternatives to compelling the disclosure of keys.

AB - Encryption works by scrambling digital images and documents, rendering them unintelligible without a key to return them to a comprehensible form. As modern encryption programmes have traditionally proved difficult to break without the key, there has been growing concern that by using encryption to hide their files, criminals will be able to evade investigations. Although the possibility of criminals in general hiding behind encryption is problematic, the risk is understood to be particularly acute in the context of sex offenders. Should such offenders use encryption and withhold the key, their trading and communication networks could be irrevocably hidden from view, as could millions of indecent images. A generic encryption offence was created by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 whereby the failure to surrender encryption keys upon demand would be subject to penalty, but recently – and of particular note – amendments by the Policing and Crime Act 2009 to the offence provide for escalated sentences where the circumstances of the investigation relate to child indecency. In light of these amendments, this article interrogates the necessity and validity of the revised RIPA powers as part of the child protection framework, and considers some alternatives to compelling the disclosure of keys.

KW - child pornography

KW - encryption

KW - law

KW - Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

KW - Policing and Crime Act 2009

M3 - Journal article

VL - 4

SP - 410

EP - 427

JO - Child and Family Law Quarterly

JF - Child and Family Law Quarterly

SN - 1358-8184

ER -