Michael McDowell: True extent of new powers sought by gardaí a cause for concern

Bill needs additional protections and constraints – it cannot just be rubber-stamped

Someone failing to grant access to their devices may be arrested and charged before the District Court because the maximum penalty is five years’ imprisonment on indictment. Photograph: iStock

Someone failing to grant access to their devices may be arrested and charged before the District Court because the maximum penalty is five years’ imprisonment on indictment. Photograph: iStock

An Garda Síochána has asked the Government to draw up and have the Oireachtas enact a Bill to extend its members’ powers to require any person whose premises are searched under warrant to provide them with pin number access or decryption keys to any IT device they may come across in the course of their search.

This power is contained in a general scheme of the Bill recently published by the Minister for Justice.This legislation would, if enacted, not merely codify existing Garda powers but also extend them to cases and situations not now covered.

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