IMPORTANT NOTE: This question is quite niche, I am not sure if this stack is the most relevant place, please inform me if there is a better place for it.
To explain the question: I am asking if, a one-time-pad encryption system (brief explanation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_w9l9visH8 ) can make any information encrypted with said system immune to prosecution – in the event that the prosecutors were to find, or believe to have*, the original key/one-time-pad that was actually used.
*The point being, the one-time-pad is not only ‘unbreakable’ - provided the security procedures/rules are kept to (no key re-use, keep key private), but given the maths – given the nature of why it is unbreakable, it is also impossible to actually know/prove beyond all doubt that you ever have the right key.
i.e: Given the nature of a one-time-pad system/its fundamental design, by itself it is impossible to determine whether or not the key is ‘correct/incorrect’. It is simply inputted and, implementing the algorithm/system, an output is given.
Given this, that it is impossible to actually prove the key is ‘correct’, if the authorities/prosecution were to ‘find’ said ‘correct key’, they cannot actually prove that the key is the correct one, therefore they cannot actually prove that the output provided by using said key is actually the original plaintext that was encrypted.
My point being: Though I assume, from previous legal cases around the world regarding infosec, that this would make any ‘evidence’ - obtained by ‘decrypting’ said data with this ‘correct key’ that any prosecution/authorities should obtain – inadmissible as they cannot actually prove said evidence ever existed, I am asking here if this is the case?
Sorry for the lengthy explanation, it is a rather niche question, I shall clarify it with an example for what I intend to actually ask; example: Say the authorities/prosecution obtain what they say is the ‘one-time-pad’ (though of course, as we know there is no irrefutable way to actually prove said claim) Said one-time-pad is then used to produce plaintext which results in incriminating material being discovered.
Is said material considered admissible evidence, given that: With some clever, (though not actually that difficult to perform) maths some geeks could quite happily engineer a ‘one-time-pad’ to produce an output of said incriminating plaintext. Regardless of this, there is no way to actually prove said key is the correct key, and so creates the situation which allows for above abuse.
I realise this may seem a very strange, obscure, niche question, but I find it interesting & I have not been able to find any real (public) history of any case where this has been so.
Before you endeavour to answer, I must add some information: I realise that even if the material is inadmissible, as it may have been created by the prosecution/authorities or otherwise, they could use this material that they believe to be correct/accurate to find other evidence – I realise this and it is not the question. Further to the above, I realise that said material could be so circumstantual a prosecution may argue it evident, i.e. the plaintext produced (with the ‘correct’ key the prosecution provides) contains an image with metadata – nevertheless this is covered under the same circumstance as the above, as of course this could have been engineered. I believe this question to be ‘on-topic’ and important/relevant as I do not believe it has been asked before here on stack-exchange, nor adequately answered/explored elsewhere. I also realise that the likelihood of authorities performing said ‘exploit’ is less likely than other exploits being performed, nevertheless the overarching point is the plaintext cannot ever actually be proved to be the actual plaintext. Anyway, I have already said that – my point here was that regardless if the authorities do not perform such exploit, it is a very real possibility that should material claimed to be plaintext ever be considered evidence, that other parties such as the prosecution (who will most likely have had access to examine/read/copy the hard drive for their own independent examination) would be able to perform such attack. Such attack would not be necessarily complex, though I’m not saying it would be in any means easy (or computationally cheap), I am just saying it is entirely possible, and again the overarching point being it is impossible to prove the key is ever said key.
And yes, I realise that a good prosecution could provide such circumstantual evidence, though in my belief circumstantual, such as: Data y was stored by/accessed by defendant, we can prove this (though not actually prove its the key), we believe this is the key (because of a,b,c,) and hence this is the plaintext of the defendants hard drive, which is therefore incriminating.
MY PRIOR RESEARCH: Of course without the key it is impossible to actually ‘decrypt’ said data (provided no key reuse), I know that authorities/prosecution wouldn’t be able to ‘decrypt’ the hard drive if they didn’t have the key. The point is, again to reiterate, that the very mathematical nature of this predicament further creates/also is the predicament that it is impossible to prove the data produced is actually the ‘original’ plaintext. Hence, given that the authorities cannot actually ‘decrypt’ the data without the key that is used, I would like to know if it is legally valid for them to say that they have done so in any case?
I am asking this as I have researched and have not found any cases that are public, neither in the scenario/principle described, nor have I even found any that actually involve unbreakable ‘one-time-pad’ encryption. I ask this as again, if it were to be legally valid then it would enable anybody to perform some clever calculations to effectively invent incriminating evidence.
https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/10/uk_police_can_n.html The comments section of this page provides interesting discussion on the topic, of which is scarce generally. The comments seem to support the idea that any one-time-pad encryption scheme properly implemented makes all ‘evidence’ produced from said data inadmissable.
https://ifca.ai/pub/fc97/r4.pdf “In 1995, it was finally divulged that the Rosenbergs, while attempting to use “one-time pad” encryption,infra, were careless in doing so, and didn’t really use a one-time pad after all. This enabled the government to develop evidence that assisted in their conviction.” The above quote from the linked paper also suggests that anything properly encrypted with a one-time-pad scheme is merely data, and that no admissible evidence can be produced.
So yes, a long question, maybe repetitive & lengthy, but I hope you can read through this as it is important to clarify.
A further DISCLAIMER: Please focus on the question, it is already long enough, I don’t wish to write an entire text on the questions I am not asking. As a final clarification, the question above has been asked clearly, however niche you may think it there are valid concerns (as are shared by those in the comments linked). I realise that you could just have the key tortured out of you by a malicious entity, this is not the question nor it is relevant, this is long enough now so I conclude.