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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Search warrant will be required for gardaí to access phone passwords

New legislation will allow gardaí to access an individual’s phone with criminal sanctions in place for those who refuse to co-operate by not giving their device’s password to gardaí.

However, Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys has stated that this power will only be used by gardaí when a search warrant has been issued.

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As the modern world becomes more digitally-oriented, criminal activity has increasingly migrated to the internet, especially since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gardaí believe that this trend of technology-based crime would continue long after the pandemic and therefore believe that the new legislation is necessary. Humphreys stated that gardaí need the powers to fight crimes such as child abuse, corruption and drug transactions in the modern world as it allows gardaí to access information in a timely and efficient manner.

She added that the penalties will be proportionate to the type of offence that’s in relation to the search warrant being issued. If an individual fails to give their password to gardaí they can risk a fine ranging from €5,000 to €30,000 along with a prison sentence between one and five years on indictment.

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The new guidelines on the garda powers of arrest will also require gardaí to present to a court that there were reasonable grounds for the arrest.

The new stop and search guidelines will allow for an additional right to information in regards to a search warrant and will also allow a lawyer to be present.

Gardaí will also be obliged to make a written record in every case where an individual is placed under a stop and search procedure.

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