Court refuses request to force alleged hacker Lauri Love to hand over passwords

10.05.16 | |


A landmark judgment handed down today by District Judge Nina Tempia at Westminster Magistrates’ Court means that Lauri Love, represented on a pro bono basis by Ben Cooper, will not have to disclose passwords and encryption keys for his computers to the National Crime Agency, which seized his property in October 2013.  Mr Love is alleged to have committed offences by hacking in to computer systems belonging to the FBI, the US Federal Reserve Bank, and the US Missile Defence Agency.  The Government of the USA has sought his extradition to face trial in three separate US jurisdictions, New York, Virginia and New Jersey. Mr Love’s extradition case is testing the new forum bar to extradition, announced by the Home Secretary when revoking the order for Gary McKinnon’s extradition, with a hearing date scheduled for 28 June 2016.


The case raised important issues of principle in relation to the right to respect for private life, right to enjoyment of private property, and the use that should be made by the court to make directions in circumstances where the NCA has failed to follow through on statutory procedures set out in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.  Mr Love was also effectively being asked to hand over material which the authorities could seek to use to incriminate him.  District Judge Tempia agreed, saying that to grant the NCA’s application would “circumvent specific legislation that has been passed in order to deal with the disclosure sought.


Today’s decision has been widely reported by press outlets such as The Guardianthe BBC, and others. David Allen Green, the well known legal writer and head of litigation and media at Preiskel & Co, has written for the Financial Times outlining why, in his view, the National Crime Agency lost the case by abusing the law.  His piece can be found here.


Ben Cooper continues to represent Mr Love, as sole counsel, in his defence of the US extradition request.  Ben has a long history of representing individuals accused of sophisticated cybercrime before the Crown Court including members of the Anonymous and Lulzsec hacking group. He successfully defended Gary McKinnon, whose extradition to the US was blocked by the Home Secretary after a ten-year battle and Richard O’Dwyer, accused in the US of copyright infringement, after negotiating a deferred prosecution agreement.


Stephen Cragg QC led in the claim for return of Mr Love’s property. Kaim Todner Solicitors instruct.

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