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(Fwd) Encryption is like a locked suitcase

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Thu, 20 Aug 1998 11:09:56 +0100
From:          Ian Brown <I.Brown@cs.ucl.ac.uk>
To:            cryptography@c2.net
Subject:       Encryption is like a locked suitcase

UK Customs' view of encrypted laptop hard disks...


Customs targets laptop hard drive contents 
By Simon Davies 
A spokesman for Customs and Excise said officials would routinely scan
laptops for illegal material such as pornography. Encrypted files will
be treated in the same way as a ordinary luggage. "So far as we are
concerned, there is no difference between an encrypted file and a
locked suitcase," said the spokesman. "All travellers entering the
country should be prepared to have their equipment scanned."

Laptop carriers will have little choice but to submit to the demands
of Customs officials. People refusing to open files or divulge keys
will be subject to a court order. Refusal to obey the order would
constitute contempt of court - an offence that can result in

Unlike cases involving body searches, Customs officers are not
required to establish grounds for "reasonable suspicion" before
conducting a computer search.

The Home Office has not issued specific guidelines on the practice,
leaving Customs officers free to take copies of disk scans. This has
alarmed business leaders, who have raised concerns that sensitive
commercial data could be compromised. ...