There were shenanigans at the AusCERT IT security conference in Queensland last night, with Queensland Police detaining Fairfax journalist Ben Grubb for questioning about a story he wrote at the conference about Facebook hacking.
Grubb tweeted yesterday afternoon:
I've been arrested by Queensland Police for a story I wrote today. They've also seized my iPad. #AusCERT
The story in question was this one, about security expert Christian Heinrich, who demonstrated how he could access supposedly private Facebook photos by showing off photos of another security expert's wife. That seems like a kind of dodgy way to showcase a security flaw - especially given Grubb's reporting that the two security experts don't like eachother - but it did make the point.
However, it seems that the Queensland Police took the hack a little too seriously. While they deny that they "arrested" Grubb, they did detain him for questioning and held on to the journalist's iPad as evidence. Fairfax is also reporting that Queensland Police has made no attempt to contact Heinrich, the perpetrator of the actual hack.
Online rights campaigner Geordie Guy believes that the situation is mired in the fact that the Queensland Police don't actually understand technology. On his personal blog, he wrote:
Queensland police need to learn how technology works before it becomes police policy to arrest everyone on the Internet when something goes wrong. I hope Fairfax mulch them over this.
Even if Grubb wasn't actually arrested, he was certainly led to believe that he was by Queensland police, just because he did his job as a technology journalist. But then again, this is the same police force that tried to send a man to prison for 20 years for sharing a video of a circus child a couple of years ago.
UPDATE: Turns out he was arrested. Queensland Police's Twitter account qualified this morning:
Our bad @bengrubb was arrested for questioning briefly Our tweet last night was based on information provided at the time Apologies #Auscert