Apr 222008
 

I see the Gardaí­ will be able to collect details of people’s emails and internet usage when they’re investigating a serious offence.

Serious offences, you say?

Great!  It’s about time they came down hard on drug dealers and gun smugglers and murderers and rapists and child abusers.

Well, no, actually.  Under the new rules, the government is going to redefine a serious offence.  It used to be one that carries a minimum of five years in jail, but now a serious offence will be one that carries  a maximum of six months in jail.

Read that again.  A serious offence is one that carries a penalty of up to six months imprisonment.  Up to!  It used to be five years or more.

What does this mean?

Well, there’s a whole heap of penalties under different laws, and at the lower end they usually include a fine or imprisonment or both.  An offence with a six-month maximum is at the very minor end of the scale and imprisonment is rarely, if ever, imposed.   Yet this is the kind of offence that our government is going to redefine as serious.

I had a quick scan of the Irish Statute Book, and it looks like a lot of offences are more serious than you thought.  Our fearless crimebusters can go through your emails if you have no licence for your horse, or if you didn’t put enough insulation in your house.  If you break the speed limit or drive with bald tyres, the Gardaí­ will have the power to  demand records of who you correspond with and what web-sites you visit.  If you ever copied a CD, or installed questionable software, they can get your entire file.  If some cop on a power-trip falsely accuses you of misbehaving in public, that’s it.  You’re screwed.  They can get everything you have.

What’s really sinister is the fact that you don’t have to be guilty of anything.  They can do this while investigating you for an extremely serious crime like pissing in the street, even if you didn’t do it.  They just have to accuse you of it and they’ll be able to take away all your privacy.

Do I hear you asking why we should worry about this?  Surely the Gardaí­ would only use these powers against dangerous criminals.

Well, no, actually.

You see, we live in a country where the police force is so cynical and uncontrolled that they routinely misuse the data they already have access to.  It’s normal for our cops to access the vehicle database to find out the details of car owners when their pals are buying a motor.  They look up ex-directory numbers.  They phone previous owners from the police station, as recently happened to a friend of mine.

They intimidate and arrest law-abiding citizens because it’s safer than tackling real criminals and it gets them into the station nice and warm at night.  They routinely perjure themselves, as any Irish lawyer will tell you.  They invent evidence.  They lie.  If you don’t believe me, read the Morris tribunal reports.  Read about the framing of Frank Shortt.  Read about Frank McBrearty. Read about the killing of Brian Rossiter.  Read about the setting up of Dean Lyons.

Imagine the abuses such a rabble will get up to when they gain access to your emails and internet history.

  26 Responses to “Internet Data and Email : New Powers for Irish Police”

Comments (26)
  1.  

    About the Car History checking..
    Thats spot on as a colleague of mine has a very good friend who is a guard and when she is changing Cars she gets her friend to scan the database for the history..
    It may seen like a small thing but who is there to draw the line at what a small indiscretion is and absolute abuse of power..

  2.  

    In this country they call that Homeland Security and have a “patriot” act to allow for such invasions of privacy. It’s a crock but at least they’ve given it the thin veneer of claiming it’s to fight the terrorists. Simply redefining something as a “serious crime” shows the police aren’t even pretend to conceal their quest for ever-greater-powers.

  3.  

    That’s pretty fucking draconian.Seems they are taking the colour of their shirts a bit serious.

    Can you imagine those buffons with that power? Jesus Christ Almighty…the more I think about it the scarier it seems.

  4.  

    Maybe they’re just updating the law so that its in line with what the gardai are already doing.

  5.  

    Suppose they have to do something -must be taking its toll after all…..locked up all day in the barracks as they are; eating doughnuts, wolfing down the chips’n’vinegar, swamping cowld tae and talking shit about GAA and what they’d love to do to the Scumbags – if only they had faster cars, bonuses and better gear.

    Nice to know they’re on this case. Why bother with the drug dealers and criminals who might shoot at you when you can nail a cynical bastard for daring to express an opinion or download a music file.

    1984, it’s still not too late.

  6.  

    You know, the worst thing is that they are probably only “regularising” a situation that already exists. There are tens of thousands of phone interceptions every year and no-body knows what purpose they are for, who they are on and what is found.

  7.  

    The Gardai can already do that in a round about way. They are just ‘redefining’ it *cough* so that all the corrupt ones don’t keep abusing the system!

  8.  

    Um…. This is the first I’ve heard of this and I’m not the most technical and I’ll probably sound like a doo-doo for asking this but how will they get access to information about the sites I visit or the e-mails I send? I mean if my service provider has the information and the gardai want it as part of an ”investigation” won’t they have to have proof that this information will be in some way relevant to that investigation? Do they have to get a court order or warrant or something?? I once looked at a site about prisoner gang tattoos in American prisons for visual research I was doing – if I don’t pay my road tax could I be arrested under the suspicion I may be a member of the Arizona Ayrian Brotherhood????!!!

  9.  

    They won’t have to get a court order, and you don’t necessarily have to commit an offence. If they’re investigating a “serious” offence, they can request the information from your service provider, who will have to retain such information for twelve months.

    According to the Irish Times, the information retained will include include the names of people sending and receiving e-mails, IP addresses, your location, how often you logged on and the size of the various files and emails you send or receive. They won’t have to retain the text of the email.

  10.  

    that’s ridiculous, surely you can get the EU to overrule it all though cos it’s disgraceful.

  11.  

    Actually, it’s implementing an EU directive, though in the usual Irish over-the-top way..

  12.  

    christ… able to give me a link to info on the directive?

  13.  

    Hang on, if serious crime is one that corresponds to a six month sentance, what does a 5 year sentance qualify as? Really naughty? Or did I misunderstand you and it is six months and over?

  14.  

    Well thank heavens it’s the Gardaí who will be accessing this information and not some corrupt state-backed organisation who have been caught numerous times resorting to frame ups, blackmail and all forms of duress to “get a result”. Why,we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night!

  15.  

    B’dum: Here

    Thriftcriminal: If the offence specified in the Act carries a penalty of six months or more, you’re in.

    Galwaywegian: What a relief!

  16.  

    The only way this should be allowed is on foot of a written request from a Chief Super or higher rank, with the proviso that if such a request is proven to have been made on spurious grounds then the requester will lose their job and their pension (to cover the possibility discovery might come to light after they retired).

  17.  

    As I understand it, the request will have to come from the top. However, the internal controls aren’t specified, and in any event, it’s a redefinition of what constitutes serious crime.

    Watch out for a scoop on the abysmal standard of Garda IT security. Coming soon to a blog near you.

  18.  

    Is the use of torture morally aceptable to extract information from a suspect in police custody?

    In principle we’ll all say no.

    However, a geezer rambling on in the Times recently made the following hypothetical argument for the use of torture.

    Police have a terrorist in custody, but he is invoking his right to say FA. But police suspect strongly that he knows exactly where a massive explosive is planted in the City Centre.

    So do they give him the father of a bating and get the info out of him, or respect his legal right to stay mum?

    If they take the latter option thousands could die, the former, and they can save lives but are abusing the suspects human rights.

    So are there instances where torture is morally acceptable?.

    Likewise with the Gardai playing Big Bro on our internet accounts.

    If they can collar major criminals from info taken from cyberspace and the side effect is the erosion of our privacy, is this morally acceptable?.

    It is a hard call, but if, as pointed out in the main article, the Gardai are given carte blanche to use these new powers for tittle tattle and vindictiveness then we should all worry.

  19.  

    hmmm.. so if its morally acceptable to torture someone, then of course its fine for the guards to got through the details of their emails. How else are they going to find additional suspects to torture!

  20.  

    Actually the use of torture is never morally acceptable, if you uphold the Geneva Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. These daft hypothetical arguments are fatuous.

  21.  

    OF COURSE THERE ARE CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS(PERVERTS AND STALKERS PEOPLE COMMITING CRIME IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION) WHO DONT LIKE THE IDEA OF THE IRISH GUARDS REPSONSIBLE FOR UPHOLDING THE PEACE HAVING ACCESS TO INTERNET DATA AND EMAIL MAKES PERFECT SENSE, AND THIS ARTICLE IS SOMEWHAT INACCURATE,AND I DONT THINK YOU ARE REALLY.. HOW TO SAY..GETTING THE POINT HERE,IF A CRIME IS COMMITTED..THE RELEVANT AUTHORITIES SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO EMAIL ACCOUNTS AND HAVE THE ABILITY TO TRACE ANYONE WHO IS SUSPECT GOOGLE ALREADY HAVE SOFTWARE WATCHING EVERYONE ANYWAY..AND IN 2006 A BILL WAS PASSED THROUGH ON A NEED TO KNOW BASIS FOR A PILOT PROGRAMME RECORDING EVERYONE ON MSN MESSENGER IF I WANTED TO I COULD TRACE SOMEONE WITH THE RIGHT SOFWARE ALL THE BIG COMPANIES ARE DOING IT!

  22.  

    You’re either drunk or stoned. Which is it?

  23.  

    I know,imagine Cap-locks on for the whole post disgraceful… i’d say drunk though..

  24.  

    Hi

    As a fresh bocktherobber.com user i only wanted to say hi to everyone else who uses this bbs :-D

  25.  

    Interesting link, could close down your site !!

    http://www.blackouteurope.eu/.

  26.  

    1984? The only thing George Orwell got wrong was the date. Prepare for your implants Folks . The technology has advanced .

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