Scotland Yard charge: teaching people to use crypto is an act of terrorism

Samata Ullah from Cardiff faces six terrorism charges, including "preparation of terrorism..."by researching an encryption programme, developing an encrypted version of his blog site, and publishing the instructions around the use of [the] programme on his blog site."



Another charge against Ullah is that he provided "instruction or training in the use of encryption programmes...for the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism or for assisting the commission or preparation by others of such acts."

Finally, he was charged with possessing a "Universal Serial Bus (USB) cufflink that had an operating system loaded on to it for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation, or instigation of terrorism." That is, a thumbdrive loaded with an operating system like TAILS, something that many people (including me) keep around in order to boot their computers into known-good states to check for malware and make sure our communications are secure.

In other words, according to Scotland Yard, serving a site over HTTPS (as this one is) and teaching people to use crypto (as this site has done) and possessing a secure OS (as I do) are acts of terrorism or potential acts of terrorism. In some of the charges, the police have explicitly connected these charges with planning an act of terrorism, but in at least one of the charges (operating a site served over HTTPS and teaching people about crypto) the charge lacks this addendum -- the mere act is considered worthy of terrorism charges. Scotland Yard's own site is not available over HTTPS though other UK governmental sites are. are -- and the UK government offers its own crypto training tools.

The charge sheet includes one count of preparation of terrorism "by researching an encryption programme, developing an encrypted version of his blog site, and publishing the instructions around the use of [the] programme on his blog site."

Ullah is also accused of knowingly providing "instruction or training in the use of encryption programmes" in relation to "the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism or for assisting the commission or preparation by others of such acts."

He has additionally been charged with being in possession of a "Universal Serial Bus (USB) cufflink that had an operating system loaded on to it for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation, or instigation of terrorism."

Cops charge Cardiff man with “training, researching” how to use crypto software
[Kelly Fiveash/Ars Technica]


(Image: Internet2, Fabio Lanari, CC-BY-SA)

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