How much trouble is the person in for not knowing the password to their work laptop? | LawHive - Solicitors & Lawyers Online
How much trouble is the person in for not knowing the password to their work laptop?
I work for a foreign company in England. I always work from home. I had their laptop and did book keeping, sending out invoices, banking payments etc. I was paid £18000 a year. Some transactions looked strange so I told the authorities. The police came and took the work laptop and my personal laptop and phones. I have given them my password for my stuff. I gave them my password for the work laptop but it doesn’t work. The laptop works but the apps do not. They were all on the Citrix account which I have been disabled on by work. I am told by someone I know who also works for them that they geofence the laptop so know when it is not in my home and wipe the settings. There were no files in the laptop they were all with the Citrix machine abroad. I am told they are getting a court order to force the correct password from me but I do not know it! How much trouble am I in?

Andra Twogood

8th September 2021



Top Answer
Have you spoken to a local solicitor yet ? That would be the best option.

Clarence James

16th January 2022



It sounds as if the police are seeking an order under s49 of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The penalty for failing to provide a password following a 49 notice is potentially a prison sentence, so the consequences of this are very serious. Do your employers know that the police have your laptop, and they are under investigation? Have you made it clear to the police that there is no data on the laptop itself? Either way, if they took your personal devices as well and are now seeking a s49 notice, you would be best seeking legal advice as it would appear you are a suspect. Have you been interviewed under caution at any point, and offered a duty solicitor?

Henry Posey

16th January 2022



You need you solicitor to make the proper counter-argument. 1. The system is such that the data is not stored on the laptop, but only on servers outside the country. 2. The system was geo-fenced to self erase if it left the workplace. 3. The account you were authorised to use is no longer authorised. 4. In any case you have already given the password for that account. 5. You employer is aware of the issues and has taken measures to ensure the evidence is not accessible to the police. 6. You came forward in good faith and have cooperated fully with the police. 7. There is no means that can compel you to give a password to a service you are not authorised to use and have no credientials for. Or something like that. If you do not argue the application you could end up in contempt of court, or worst, if there is some encryption, you could face criminal charges and be convicted.

Martin Gahagan

16th January 2022



Is there any element of terrorism linked to this investigation?

Gerri Floyd

16th January 2022



I am not a lawyer. but based on what you're saying: This potentially involves serious organised international financial crime, as well as issues about just what you know and knew at different points in time. Therefore you are best off exercising extreme caution in what you reveal online here (just shut up entirely), and speak only to your solicitor, ideally one with experience in this area.

Jeff Haywood

16th January 2022



You CAN give the password to the disabled account. You used it so must know it. That it doesn't work is irrelevant. You’re obscuring the issue by talking about other passwords. Not sure why. Using words like "can't" implies you do know it but there is some reason you aren't telling them. You need to be clearer to your solicitor and under questioning.

Leonard Johnson

16th January 2022



You need proof of the geo fence procedure from the company without them sussing anything just yet. That way it shows you complied with the right password and because YOU called them

Chelsea Worrell

16th January 2022

NAL But work in IT & with Citrix All of those files are hosted on the companies remote servers, your laptop was effectively a thin client "streaming" the desktop, files etc from that server. If they've disabled your account there's absolutely nothing you can do to regain access to those files no matter how much you want. Frankly the police need to consult someone in their digital forensics team for this basic understanding of infrastructure :)

Nellie Keller

16th January 2022



Silly question... Can't you just tell them who does have password (IE: The foreign company you work for) and it's up to them to contact said company and get the password that way?

Laura Shidler

16th January 2022



So sorry this has happened to you and wishing you all the best with it. Don't mean to be captain hindsight but this is a perfect example of exactly why I will never **ever** voluntarily get myself involved with the Police for any reason whatsoever.

Sharon Woodcock

16th January 2022