Yesterday I saw some conflicting news reports as to what happened to Australian reporter Ben Grubb after he covered a hacking story at a security conference. In time, the story got clarified, and here’s his report:
We’ve all seen it happen on TV a zillion times. But when a police officer recited to me those well-rehearsed words – ‘you have the right to remain silent … ‘ – I felt sick in the stomach.
The conversation with the two officers had started off in a friendly enough manner. I was in a session at the AusCERT security conference on the Gold Coast when I received a call from Detective Superintendent Errol Coultis.
I thought he was from the Queensland Police media unit to begin with, but it soon became clear he was an officer who wanted to question me over a story I had written regarding a security expert’s demonstration of vulnerabilities on social media sites such as Facebook.
Read more in The Age.
Taking a reporter’s iPad because it contained evidence of what might be a crime? Accusing a reporter of receiving illegally obtained information? Is this a mini-WikiLeaks? What Ben Grubb did is what journalists and bloggers do every day – we receive information and sometimes that information may not have been obtained by the party who provides it to us in totally legal ways. If what Ben Grubb did was wrong – and I don’t think it was – then the New York Times and every other mainstream news organization is at risk of having their reporters covering Australian news arrested and their computers seized.
This was just so wrong.