New surveillance measures to target use of WhatsApp and Facebook by gangs in Republic of Ireland
The use of messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Facebook, by gangland criminals is to be targeted under new measures being drawn up by the Republic of Ireland's Department of Justice.
Tánaiste and Irish Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has instructed her officials to modernise the law surrounding covert surveillance as part of the government's response to the gangland crisis.
Garda sources say criminals are increasingly using the likes of WhatsApp, imessages and Facebook to communicate.
The current law is seen as being out of date and does not cover the array of messaging services now available.
Ms Fitzgerald has asked her officials to finalise proposals which will be brought to Cabinet in the coming weeks.
"We have to recognise that those involved in organised crime and terrorism can use very sophisticated technology and this should not make them immune to monitoring by An Garda Síochána, especially when lives are at stake," a spokesman said.
"What we are simply talking about is modernising the regime that has applied here for a long time now in relation to phones and post to ensure that it reflects the developments in technology," he added.
However, technology experts believe the Irish government could run into difficulty if it attempts to legislate to allow gardaí to access these types of messages.