Britain’s FBI loses case against hacktivist as UK court rules against forceful decryption of passwords
Hacktivist Lauri Love is currently fighting extradition to the USGetty Images

A UK judge has turned down the National Crime Agency's (NCA) request to force an alleged hacker to decrypt passwords from data involved in a US hacking case. Hacktivist Lauri Love, who was accused of hacking into Nasa, the US Federal Reserve and the US army, is currently fighting extradition to the US, where he faces the possibility of serving up to 99 years in prison, if found guilty.

The NCA had put forward an application to force the decryption of equipment they had seized from Love in 2013. This was to counter Love's own application to return his property. However, in a hearing on 10 May at the Westminister Magistrate's Court, the NCA's application was rejected by District Judge Nina Tempia, who noted it attempted "to circumvent specific legislation that has been passed in order to deal with the disclosure sought," the Register reported.

Speaking about the need for governments across the world to overcome their discord with activists and hackers, Love told the Guardian: "The US government is conducting a war against information activists like me. This kind of thing is a distraction from what is really important – keeping the world secure. I am offering a 'third way' where governments and hackers work together and bridge the divide. Governments should be making the most of the talent that computer hackers have to try to work together to solve the problems of computer lack of security."

"We have to put our differences aside," he added. "What we really need to do is sit round the table together and start to have a conversation."

Love is facing possible extradition to the US over his alleged connection to #OpLastResort, which is believed to have been orchestrated by hacktivist collective Anonymous following the persecution and suicide of activist and Reddit founder Aaron Swartz in 2013.

Coincidentally, the NCA case is similar to that of the FBI's attempt to force Apple to decrypt an iPhone involved in the San Bernardino case. In both cases, however, the judges did not rule in favour of the government agencies, safeguarding the rights of citizens' privacy.

Love's lawyer Karen Todner said, "Mr Love is very pleased with the decision of District Judge Tempia today not to grant the direction requested by the NCA. The case raised important issues of principle in relation to the right to respect for private life and right to enjoyment of property and the use of the court's case management powers."

Love is currently fighting extradition to the US on one count of "conspiracy" and six additional counts of "damage to a protected computer and aiding and abetting", the hearing for which will be held on 28 and 29 June.