Obey Your Masters in Government
(Tech Crunch) - A UK court has reaffirmed the power for state agents to use sweeping counterterrorism legislation to require travelers hand over the passwords for their digital devices for their contents to be searched at borders.
A London court today found Muhammad Rabbani guilty of willfully obstructing the police by failing to hand over device passwords and the PIN code for his smartphone after he had been detained at a UK airport.
Rabbani is international director of Cage, an advocacy organization for communities impacted by Western counterterrorism policies.
He says he had been returning from a business trip to the Middle East last year when he was detailed and questioned. He declined to provide his passwords because he said he wanted to protect sensitive information provided to Cage by a client who had been subjected to torture.
The Intercept has reported at some length on the case after the same counterterrorism legislation was used in 2013 to detain David Miranda, the partner of Intercept co-founder and investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald who had been in contact with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. In that instance UK authorities seized journalistic material stored on a hard drive being carried through a UK airport by Miranda -- apparently conflating journalism and terrorism.
The law being used by UK authorities to force people to provide access keys to their digital devices is Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 -- which is supposed to be used solely to determine whether a person is directly involved in the “commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”.
Critics have accused authorities of overusing the power, and say it is discriminatory because it disproportionately affects Muslims who travel.
According to Rabbani he had already been detained at airports as many as 20 times under the same power. And had also previously been asked for his passwords -- and had not been arrested when he refused.
In this instance, after again refusing to reveal his passwords, he says he was handed a leaflet stating it is now compulsory to surrender passwords. He was then arrested, and, in May, charged with obstructing justice. A guilty verdict can result in up to three months in jail and/or a fine.Read More . . . .
|Britain slowly becomes what it fought against|