On December 15th 2011, the Australian Supreme Court halted the Victoria Police from seizing three personal computers that belonged to investigative journalists Ben Schneiders, Royce Millar, and Nick McKenzie, all of whom work for the Australian newspaper The Age.

Earlier that day, the police from Victoria’s e-crimes unit obtained a warrant to search “electronic and hard-copy files” found on the journalists’ computers. The police were responding to a report published in The Age in 2010 regarding private information about voters held on an Australian Labor Party (ALP) database.

Objecting, Paul Ramadge, editor-in-chief of The Age, appealed the lower court ruling, asserting that the computers could not be removed because such action journalistic would violate the code that promises to protect the newspaper’s sources. Ramadge also explained that  journalists at the magazine often receive a lot of “highly confidential information from a range of sources and the release of such information, inadvertently or otherwise, would be extremely damaging.”

Responding to an appeal, Justice Karin Emerton ordered that police be restrained from removing the computers, but that they could inspect them at Media House while The Age journalists “provided access and assistance.”

Victoria detectives’ search warrant was aimed at resolving whether The Age staff had illegally tapped into the ALP database or not. Shades of that scandal in Great Britain involving the Murdoch empire, no?

For more information, please visit:
The Sydney Morning Herald