It is expected that the Murray report into the bugging of journalists’ phones by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, which will be given to the Cabinet today, will advocate new limits on how gardaí and some other State agencies can snoop on private citizens’ electronic communications and use of websites.
Under current legislation gardaí can pry into a person’s electronic messages without securing a court or ministerial order to do so. Traditional surveillance operations require such authorisation.
Today’s unsatisfactory situation is a consequence of technology outstripping legislation. It means that the force, reeling from one trust-breaking scandal after another, can check individuals data without oversight or justifying their actions.
In a society where the police force is beyond reproach, that would be an unwise indulgence. In Ireland, it seems close enough to lunacy.
Therefore, the suggestion that Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will move quickly to have the Murray recommendations enacted is very welcome — and it must be done quickly.
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