Tag Archives: Irish police can ask for passwords

Under Lock and Keyboard

Under new legislation Irish police will have the power to compel people to provide passwords for electronic devices when carrying out a search warrant…


They had been in Jimmy’s house for an hour now, behaving as if their house-search training had been based entirely on 1970s cop shows.

They had ruffled piles of paper, mostly takeaway menus, on the kitchen table. They had opened CD cases. They had held books up by the spine and shaken them. They had gone through his wife’s underwear drawer. One had dipped a pinky finger into a jar marked “Sugar” and licked it hopefully.

They had asked for the keys to the filing cabinet, which he had handed over. The top drawer was full of old copies of Playboy. The bottom drawer contained a deep fat fryer.

Eventually the two uniformed officers stood and looked at Detective Sergeant Maguire.

“Found anything?” asked Jimmy, smiling.

“Not yet,” said Maguire.

“That’s because there’s nothing to find,” said Jimmy. “I’m not a criminal, but -”

“You’re one of the biggest coke dealers in Dublin,” said Maguire.

“True,” said Jimmy, “in that I sell Coca-cola wholesale to supermarkets. You wouldn’t believe how much money that git Ronaldo has lost me this week.”

Maguire snorted, though not in a coke way.

“As I was saying,” said Jimmy, still smiling, “I’m not a criminal, but I’d imagine that they don’t leave details of bank accounts, suppliers, storage facilities lying around on pieces of paper. You don’t write down really important things like, for example -” he looked straight into Maguire’s eyes – “where your kids go to school.”

Maguire met his gaze. “Indeed,” he said quietly. “Which is why we need the password to your laptop.”

Jimmy’s smile froze, but only for a second.

“You’d be wasting your time,” he said. “I don’t use it, I just got it so the wife could watch Netflix during lockdown. I’m not a techie at all. I’ve never even seen Cats on YouTube, which apparently is a big thing, though I don’t know why, I heard the film was shite.”

“Well then,” said Maguire, “you won’t mind giving us the password.”

“Can’t remember it, to be honest,” said Jimmy. “I think it might be ‘password’.”

“Nobody is dumb enough to have ‘password’ as their password,” said Maguire. One of the policeman reddened briefly.

“Well, then we’re stuck, aren’t we?” said Jimmy. “Perhaps it’s 1234.”

“Now look,” said Maguire, “our warrant means that we can demand-”

“Try ‘Amy’,” said a voice.

Jimmy turned in shock. His wife Linda was standing behind him.

“‘Amy’?” said Maguire, turning to the laptop.

“His girlfriend,” said Linda stonily.

Maguire typed, and shook his head. Jimmy breathed out, slightly.

Linda looked coldly at Jimmy. “‘Amy1999’ then,” she said. “She’s twenty-bloody-two.”

Maguire typed again, and stared in excitement at the screen. “It’s all here,” he said. He looked up at Jimmy. “Details of bank accounts, suppliers, storage facilities.”

“You might find that one deposit account has a zero balance,” said Linda. Jimmy’s mouth dropped open.

Linda smiled at him. “You must have been hacked, love,” she said. “It seems that criminals are just not nice people.”