Handing over the keys: Contingency, power and resistance in the context of 3LA of the Australian Crimes Act 1914

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The Australian Cybercrime Act 2001 (Cth) inserted a new section 3LA into the
Crimes Act 1914 (Cth). Section 3LA gives law enforcement officers the power to
compel a person to reveal their private encryption keys, personal identification
numbers or passwords, enabling the officers to access information held on a
computer for the purpose of investigating and prosecuting a computer related
offence. A failure to comply with the law enforcement officer's request is
punishable by up to six months' imprisonment.
This paper is a Foucauldian analysis of the nature and impact of s 3LA. Two
conclusions are reached. First, s 3LA is a technology of power that contributes to
the disciplining of society in three ways: by manufacturing fear, by redirecting the
flow of power between law enforcement agencies and private citizens, and by
panoptic surveillance. Secondly, resistance to s 3LA was not only inevitable but
contributed to its disciplinary effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-21
Number of pages15
JournalUniversity of Queensland Law Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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