Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

'Constable iPlod' mistweets journalist in Facebook hacking debacle

By Bill Potts - posted Thursday, 26 May 2011

A debacle is one way to describe how Queensland Police have responded to the relatively new world of cyber crime.

Police seriously over-reacted to the issue of hacked images from Internet Websites and exceeded Queensland police powers in arresting a journalist who wrote about the issue and seizing his Ipad.

The Ipad seizure rightly drew cries of outrage from the media with journalists fearing their electronic "notebooks" perhaps containing the names of confidential sources could now be vulnerable to police "fishing" expeditions.


Arrest powers in Queensland's Police Powers and Responsibilities Act are designed to detain people who might flee a crime scene or pose a danger to others in the community. Those powers were used against a journalist who wrote a news article about internet website vulnerability.

Fairfax Media technology journalist Ben Grubb, covering an IT security conference on the Gold Coast, wrote about a security expert's presentation which demonstrated accessing a rival's Facebook page without permission and downloading private photos.

Apparently there was no love lost between the IT rivals and the hacked one lodged a complaint with police.

Police promptly arrested the journalist because he used images sourced from the Facebook page for his article on Facebook security flaws.

Police alleged the journalist was "receiving unlawfully obtained property" which just shows that police are struggling to keep up with law enforcement issues in the IT world and especially when it relates to images effectively posted in the public domain.

Copyright or privacy laws might be in question but police were wrong to arrest Mr Grubb for receiving unlawfully obtained property.


Not only do police owe Ben Grubb a full apology, they need to give him and other journalists an assurance they did not go snooping through his Ipad while they had it looking for confidential notes or names of his contacts.

All journalists should be very worried at the police seizing their notebooks or electronic storage devices.

To date there doesn't seem to be any serious effort by police to detain the person who allegedly hacked into the Facebook page and obtained the photos, they just hammered the poor journalist who wrote about it.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

2 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Bill Potts is a Brisbane criminal lawyer.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Bill Potts

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 2 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy