‘Inadequate’ Irish cybercrime law may benefit hacking accused

Irish cybercrime law is inadequate and outdated and this may favour two young Irish students alleged to be at the centre of a global hacking ring if the US seeks to extradite them, a law expert has said.

The two students — Donncha O’Cearbhaill, from Birr, Co Offaly, and Darren Martyn, from Co Galway — are alleged to be members of LulzSec, a spin-off from the Anonymous internet hacking group and were charged in US court documents on Tuesday.

Computer law expert TJ McIntyre said be believed the Irish LulzSec arrests would show up the inadequacies of Irish cybercrime law, and if the US sought to extradite, the first thing the men would do was examine whether there were suitable offences under Irish law.

In order to extradite, it would be necessary to establish the offences they are accused of are also offences under Irish law.

“That’s the big issue,” said Mr McIntyre. “Irish cyberlaw has not been touched in about a decade now. What we have are a collection of ad hoc offences, inserted into different acts. I would assume if the US seeks to extradite and it becomes necessary to show comparable offence, the legal route for them is to look at this.”.

Mr O’Cearbhaill, a student of medicinal chemistry at Trinity College Dublin, is charged in the indictment with one count of computer hacking conspiracy. He is also charged in relation to recording the conference call, which carries up to five years in jail.

Mr Martyn is charged with two counts of computer hacking conspiracy. Each count carries a maximum term of 10 years.

Mr McIntyre said gardaí could seek to prosecute under whatever laws have been broken here.

“If someone is based in Ireland at the time an offence is committed, in some circumstances you could be prosecuted in Ireland even if you were attacking a computer in another jurisdiction.”

The Department of Justice was not commenting on the case, but released figures in relation to extradition requests from the US in the past five years. According to the department, the US transmitted 11 requests for extradition, three of which were last year.

The department said the Office of the Attorney General was examining all three requests sent in 2011 and would advise in due course.

Figures also show:

* Three requests were transmitted in 2008 — the courts have refused to extradite in all three cases.

* Three requests were transmitted in 2009, all three requests are currently before the courts.

* Two requests were transmitted in 2010, the courts ordered the extradition of one person and there has been no decision to date on the second case.

The most recent high-profile case where extradition was sought by the US was that of Seán Garland. The US authorities had sought the extradition of Mr Garland, aged 76, to face charges relating to the production of counterfeit dollars, an operation allegedly carried out with the collusion of North Korea.

Mr Justice John Edwards decided that the offence for which Mr Garland was wanted in America is regarded as having been committed in Ireland and, therefore, the court is prohibited from extraditing him.


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