Gardaí to get powers to seize digital and online evidence under law to be approved by Cabinet

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will tell colleagues that new Bill will allow gardaí target criminal evidence retained on online servers ‘in the cloud’

Gardaí will be given new powers to seize online and digital evidence, often stored in the cloud, under proposed new legislation which will be considered by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will seek Cabinet approval to draft new legislation to help the force tackle elements of crime that exist or operate online. The General Scheme for the Criminal Justice (Protection, Preservation and Access to Data on Information Systems) Bill, 2024, will ensure that gardaí have access to the most up-to-date and effective powers for getting swift access to criminal evidence which is in digital form.

Current legislation allowing the seizure of evidence is not regarded as sufficient to target information, assets, and evidence that is retained in digital form.

Traditional laws have provided for searches and seizures of objects from physical spaces. Most predate the substantial technological changes that have taken place over the past quarter of a century. Ms McEntee will tell colleagues that new tools will be required to address criminal activity in the virtual space, with footprints accessible only on private cloud infrastructures.


The new draft Bill is designed to provide gardaí with the necessary tools to gain access to online evidence easily and efficiently. Safeguards will also be put in place to respect the privacy rights of individuals.

Under the legislation gardaí will be able to apply for preservation and production orders to be served on internet service providers. These orders will oblige technology companies to preserve and produce digital evidence held on their systems.

Separately, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will bring a memo to Cabinet seeking approval of the transfer of nine additional sites to the Land Development Agency (LDA), for the development of over 3,000 homes over the medium to long term.

The sites are at Bluebell, Dublin; Carrickmines Little, Dublin; Bolton Street car park, Waterford; Waterside car park, Waterford; Galway Harbour; Rosbrien Road, Limerick; St Overran’s Hospital, Waterford; Model Farm Road, Cork; and at the Central Bank of Ireland lands at Sandyford, Co Dublin.

These sites will be earmarked for the development of between 2,800 to 3,330 homes.

On Monday the Land Development Agency announced that it and Dublin City Council had secured planning permission to build 146 cost-rental and social homes in Coolock, Dublin.

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Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times