New QLD law gives police access to smart devices

In the case of a terrorist emergency.

The Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017, passed earlier this week, has been designed to enable police to effectively manage and resolve terrorist acts with the power to search devices such as mobile phones or tablet computers. This includes information accessible by the device although not stored on the device. For example, messages sent by using applications such as Facebook.

The ability to search devices assists police in identifying possible offenders. For example, through examining any communications that have taken place leading up to, or during, the terrorist emergency.

It also enables police to obtain images captured by witnesses which may be of immense intelligence, tactical or evidentiary value. For example, photographs identifying potential offenders, equipment they possess or have access to, the number and description of persons being held hostage or the physical layout of the premises.

The proposed amendments will also enable police to copy information found that is either evidence of an offence or is relevant to the terrorist emergency to prevent the information from being remotely manipulated or deleted. Additionally, the device will be able to be immediately used by police to send a copy of relevant information found for the purposes of managing or resolving the terrorist emergency.

This reform ensures police are able to rapidly and effectively respond to the threats of terrorism now and into the future to mitigate or minimise impact. The powers are balanced by robust safeguards which ensure an equilibrium is achieved between protecting the Queensland community from harm and an individual’s rights and liberties.

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