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Pedophiles Forced To Reveal Passwords
QUEENSLAND Police will be given the powers to force suspected pedophiles to
hand over computer passwords.
Suspects who refuse to provide police with the access codes for PCs, mobile phones,
hand-held organisers and other electronic devices face criminal charges and up to 12
months' jail under the legislation, which comes into effect in July.
Queensland Police and Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence said amendments to
the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act were intended to give authorities the tools
they needed to track down and prosecute pedophiles.
Police will have to seek a warrant before they can use the powers.
"At the moment, people can use the right to silence to withhold computer passwords or
decryption codes from police," she said. "This new law will ensure criminals can no longer
hide behind passwords and encryption codes.
"If they do, they may find themselves behind bars."
While police can crack passwords and encryption, the techniques are not always
Similar powers are already available for investigators with the Australian Federal
Police and NSW Police under federal legislation.
The AFP-led Operation Auxin in 2004 resulted in charges being laid against 250
people for purchasing child pornography. Some suspects had thousands of images
stored on hard drives.
Although the Queensland powers have been pitched at fighting child pornography,
they cast a wide net around virtually all electronic equipment, and all types of investigation,
including crimes such as fraud.
Queensland has promised to share information gleaned from decrypted hard drives with
police in states and territories that lack such powers.
NSW and federal police have powers under the federal Crimes Act to obtain a warrant
requiring a suspect to help them decrypt encoded data.
But Victoria has no plans to introduce password-cracking legislation. A spokesman for
Police Minister Tim Holding said existing software techniques were adequate.
The Australian (6-6-2006)
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