Normally, I would just sigh and think, “Here we go again,” but it was the second paragraph of a news story on news.com.au that caught my eye:
Intimate photographs of an Australian Olympian having sex with his wife were stolen by staff at a Sydney computer shop after the prominent star brought his machine in for repair.
Shockingly, the practice is not illegal.
Information technology experts say the law offers no protection from the unauthorised copying of photos and data from any computer.
Read more on news.com.au. The article quotes the law:
According to Section 308H of the Crimes Act 1900, it is not an offence to “access data which is not protected or restricted by an access control system” or password.
IT experts said many popular security systems provided no protection from theft by repairers or technicians.
So if there’s no crime in copying the photos, does AU law recognize any crime or tort if they were to disseminate the photos?
And are they saying that if hackers steal a huge database of unencrypted personal information, they’ve committed no crime? Surely there must be some other law that applies to that situation, right?
In any event, it sounds like the Crimes Act needs some updating. Saying that there’s no offense if unprotected or unencrypted data are accessed seems comparable to saying that if someone invites you into their home, you can steal their belongings or root their drawers while you’re in there. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound right to me. And no, I’m not minimizing the responsibility of data owners to protect their data, but it really is shocking to learn that computer repair people can legally do what has been alleged here.