Thanks to Somerset Bean for art. On February 7th the deadline for Lauri Love to turn his encryption keys over to the UK government expired. Who is Lauri Love that he is finding himself facing the very real threat of imprisonment over draconian laws, given license to run roughshod over British citizen’s rights in order to combat “national security” threats? Lauri Love is a 28 year old former student of physics at Glasgow University and Scottish Occupy contingent member, a committed political activist and outspoken, erudite critic of injustices worldwide. The UK government are now free to charge Lauri for his lack of cooperation with their demand for his passwords, in accordance with section 49 of the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, but what is section 49 and why is it being levied against Lauri Love? Section 49 essentially allows the UK government to compel, under threat of up to five years imprisonment (this doubles to ten years if national security is seen to be at stake), any citizen to disclose their personal encryption keys. The law allows for this legal compulsion on grounds ranging from “the interests of national security” to “the purpose of preventing or detecting crime “ and “interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom“. Please bear in mind that Lauri has been charged with no crime in Britain, yet their government is still invoking this law to attempt to force him to provide information that could incriminate him or damage his defense should he go to trial. The first conviction resulting from a refusal to comply with a section 49 order was a 19 year old who was sentenced to 16 weeks in a young offenders institution, in 2009. The accused was never charged with any crime other than his failure to disclose his encryption password. This begs the question, is failing to incriminate yourself prior to being charged, in itself a crime? On October 28th 2013, to much well-coordinated press fanfare, Lauri was charged with “conspiracy to access and damage the protected computer networks of multiple U.S. government agencies” in the US states of Virginia and New Jersey. Lauri had been arrested 3 days earlier at his home in England. He is accused of being involved with politically motivated hacks relating to Anonymous OpLastResort. These various network intrusions were themselves a reaction to the harassment suffered by Aaron Swartz at the hands of various US government agencies, harassment that ultimately led to Aaron’s suicide. The US Department of Justice is already mentioning a potential 10 year sentence should Lauri be convicted of said perceived crimes. Though Lauri has not been charged with any crimes in the UK, he is on bail pending his next required meeting with the authorities in May. If there is to be a trial resulting from the allegations against against him, it stands to reason it should be conducted in the UK, under British law. We have seen time and time again the way the US Department of Justice treats those accused of computer crimes. There is no reason to assume that the state will refrain from using the same dirty tricks and scare tactics they have employed in court cases ranging from the era before Kevin Mitnick, through to that of the shameful treatment of Jeremy Hammond. FreeAnons is urging any journalists or civil rights activists, especially in Britain, to take a keen interest in this case. The harsh legal tactics already being used against Love and the way the media has been used to conduct a pre-trial smear campaign against him need to be spotlighted. In the usage of RIPA to attempt to coerce Lauri, we are seeing yet another hint of further things to come. Overly broad legal definitions and laws are wielded against citizens to erode their rights more every day. We also urge everyone to remember that in our system of justice defendants are innocent until proven guilty, no matter how many DoJ press releases and statements may try to prejudice opinions against the accused. FreeAnons continues to support political hackers who expose criminal corruption, whether in the United States or anywhere else around the world.Our mission is to provide support and a voice for those who have risked their liberty fighting against governments and corporations that seek to invade our privacy, destroy our basic rights and control the free flow of information world wide. Please join us in this struggle, support those in need of a voice, and help with support and education.
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