During the course of their investigations, law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies regularly require disclosure of protected electronic information, access to which is protected by a Personal Identification Number (‘PIN’).

Helen Holder of Kangs Solicitors outlines some aspects of the duty of disclosure of a PIN.

The Governing Law | Kangs Protected Information Advisory Solicitors

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000:

Section 49

(1) details the circumstances where any protected information that has been obtained falls to be dealt with under the Act.

(2) sets out the reasonable grounds required under which a disclosure requirement may be imposed being:

  • (a) that the key or PIN is in the possession of any person
  • (b) that the notice is necessary for the grounds provided in (3) or it is necessary for the purpose of securing the effective exercise or proper performance by any public authority of any statutory power or duty
  • (c) the notice is proportionate to the objective of the notice and
  • (d) that it is not reasonably practicable to obtain possession of the protected information without the giving of a notice.

(3) sets out the circumstances where a notice is necessary:

  • (a) in the interests of national security
  • (b) for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or
  • (c) it is in the interests of the economic well-being of the UK.

(4) details the requirements the notice which must be given in writing, describe the protected information to which it relates, specify the office, rank or position held by the person giving it and specify the time by which the notice must be complied with and allow for a period for compliance which is reasonable in all the circumstances.

Section 53

(4) provides that it shall be a defence if it can be shown that disclosure was not reasonably practicable within the time allowed but that it was made as soon as it was reasonably practicable to do so.

(5) an offence will be tried ‘either way’ which means that it can be dealt with either in the Magistrates’s Court, where the maximum sentence is one of six months imprisonment and or a fine or the Crown Court where the maximum sentence is five years if the matter involves national security or child indecency, two years in all other circumstances or a fine or both.

How Can We Help? | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors

Should you be requested by the police or another body to disclose a PIN or encryption key then it is important that you immediately obtain specialist legal advice given the serious consequences for failing to comply, as set out above.

Should you require any advice or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our team through any of the following:

Sukhdip Randhawa
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396 | 07989 521 210

Aman Murria
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396

Helen Holder
020 7936 6396 | 0121 449 9888