Queensland Police has confirmed that they have arrested Fairfax Deputy Technology Editor, Ben Grubb, over a story about a Facebook privacy flaw, and is currently examining both federal and state legislation in order to see if a crime has been committed.
Police have seized his iPad, and have charged him with receiving unlawfully obtained property, despite the fact that he is a journalist. They have not confirmed who made the complaint.
Grubb was invited by security expert Christian Heinrich on Sunday, who then proceeded to show a presentation about a flaw in Facebook’s security that could allow access to photos even if they were protected. The story, posted yesterday, contained an image of the wife of a rival security consultant – which was blurred out in the story. The image has been since removed from the article.
Heinrich’s presentation was deemed to be “unethical” by some – especially when Heinrich and his rival do not get along. He told Grubb, “I have no ethical qualms about publishing the photos. They are in the public domain.”
Talking to Fairfax Media, Peter Black, senior lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, said that cybercrime laws in Australia have been made so broad that ordinary activity is now considered a crime, and was unusual for the police to arrest a person over theft of digital photos.
“It is possible based upon a reading of [the Act] that the original action to access that private Facebook page may actually constitute a criminal offence because it does provide that a serious offence is one where a person has gained unauthorised access,” he said.
“The phrase ‘unauthorised access’ may include the activity that was done in this instance even though there was no hacking in the traditional sense.