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.
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