Written answers

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Department of Justice, Equality and Defence

Garda Investigations

3:00 pm

Photo of Dominic HanniganDominic Hannigan (Meath East, Labour)
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Question 110: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the powers the Garda has to compel persons to hand over encryption codes or keys as part of an ongoing investigation if the encrypted information being sought is thought to be of importance to a case; his plans to bring forward legislation in the area of data encryption when it interferes with criminal investigations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11050/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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Section 48 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 gives members of An Garda Síochána power to obtain a search warrant with a view to obtaining evidence of any breaches of that legislation. A member of An Garda Síochána acting under the authority of such a search warrant may require any person at that place who appears to the member to have lawful access to the information in any such computer to give to the member any password necessary to operate it, otherwise enable the member to examine the information accessible by the computer in a form in which the information is visible and legible, or to produce the information in a form in which it can be removed and in which it is, or can be made, visible and legible. Section 63 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 (as amended) provides that where a member of An Garda Síochána has been granted an order to make material available, if the material consists of information contained in a computer, the order shall have effect as an order to produce the material, or to give access to it, in a form which is legible and comprehensible or can be made so and in which it can be taken away.

Legislation is being prepared in my Department to give effect in Irish law to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. Article 19 of the Convention refers to the search and seizure of stored computer data in criminal investigations. It requires parties to the Convention to enact measures to enable their authorities to compel certain persons with knowledge of the computer system which is to be searched to assist in the search and seizure of computer data.

In the coming days, I will bring forward the Criminal Justice Bill 2011, which is intended to address delays in the prosecution and investigation of white collar crime. The Bill will provide for new detailed measures relating to the production of documents required for the investigation and prosecution of complex crimes. These measures will contain provisions relating to access to documents which are not in legible form.

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