RIPA Submission Notes

This is very much a scribbling pad to help ORG frame its reply to the Consultation on the Draft Code of Practice for the Investigation of Protected Electronic Information: Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

Comments are invited by 30th August 2006;


The Open Rights Group pursues specific objectives to:

  • Preserve and extend traditional civil liberties in the digital world
  • Raise awareness in the media of digital rights abuses
  • Provide a media clearing-house, connecting journalists with experts and activists
  • Nurture a community of campaigning volunteers, from grassroots activists to technical and legal experts

Frequency of use of Encryption

7.Over the last two to three years, investigators have begun encountering encrypted and protected data with increasing frequency. This, and the rapidly growing availability of encryption products including the advent of encryption products as integrated security features in standard operating systems, has led the Government to judge that it is now timely to implement the provisions of Part III.

Last year's annual reports mandated under RIPA, by both the the then Interception Commissioner Sir Swinton Thomas and the then Intelligence Services Commissioner Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood both contained this identical paragraph:

"However, the use of information security and encryption products by terrorist and criminal suspects is not, as I understand, as widespread as had been expected when RIPA was approved by Parliament in the year 2000. Equally the Government's investment in the National Technical Assistance Centre - a Home Office managed facility to undertake complex data processing - is enabling law enforcement agencies to understand, as far as necessary, protected electronic data."


Does the draft code contain the guidance that you would expect to see in a statutory code of practice for Part III of RIPA?

Is there anything that should be added to or removed from the draft code?

Is the code clearly written and easy to understand? If not, please indicate where it might be made clearer.

Are there any other comments you would like the Government to consider in relation to the draft code?

Indecent Images of children

On first reading it seems strange to propose that terrorists be punished less harshly than people owning indecent images.

Extending the maximum term

Adding a new power so that the maximum term for indecent images of children to 10 years and the maximum for terrorists to 5 years.