The NSC is pushing the Queensland Government to agree to monitor gun thefts to see if there is any increase in the theft rate following the recent mishandling of shooter licence information by Queensland Police.
The NSC has written to Queensland’s Police Minister and Office of the Information Commissioner, in a move to hold Queensland Police accountable for any theft of firearms resulting from its inadvertent leaking of email addresses of shooters in the Moreton area.
On Wednesday, we reported the leak after receiving information from members that the local police had sent bulk emails to 528 shooters in the area without hiding their email addresses.
The NSC got the story published in the Brisbane Times, which was then picked up by other media.
Government assurances fall short
While the police and their minister have apologised and given assurances an investigation into the privacy breach will occur, the NSC is not happy with that.
Instead, we’ve written to the minister and privacy commissioner in an effort to force the police to report any firearm thefts from those 528 licence holders that may happen over the next five year period.
That way we will know if any future increase in gun thefts can be linked to the leak, rather than any failings on the part of those shooters.
This is an important point because our view is that the police must be transparent about why any increase in thefts occurs, if that was to happen.
Otherwise, an increase in thefts could see shooters in Queensland facing more gun laws and audits, when the real target needs to be those responsible for data security, and maybe even the need for the registry in the first place.
What we asked
Here is what we sent to the Queensland Police Minister and Office of the Information Commissioner:
Dear Minister and Office
As you will be aware, Queensland Police inadvertently released the email addresses of approximately 528 licensed shooters (after culling out duplicate addresses), each of which can be used to identify where they live.
The story, which we organised to be printed, was covered in the Brisbane Times yesterday and can be seen at: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/police-release-firearm-owner-details-in-data-breach-20210114-p56tzg.html?fbclid=IwAR3JM88UixBT4eGdZf3dlc-4xVRfyMlB6lM_5ifKpl_FUD4ZUVWq9um7y0g
Given the seriousness of gun theft, which was ironically the subject of the email that went out, the NSC is of the view that Queensland Police need to monitor then publicly report on any firearm thefts that occur in respect of those 528 individuals over the next five years.
Knowing this will help both the Queensland Government and public know how it came to be that those firearms were stolen. While thefts do occur anyway, any data that is ‘statistically significant’ will confirm whether or not those thefts occurred from the actions of Queensland Police. Again, we appreciate the release of the addresses was accidental but given the seriousness that is attached to firearm thefts, we believe there is a public necessity to monitor and report on the effects of the breach.
If the data does not show an increase in thefts, then we can be confident that the event did not have an impact. However if the data shows otherwise, then the public must know this, and the public interest can be served by requiring the government to reconsider its handling of sensitive information, and in fact whether or not the registry continues to serve a useful purpose.
I look forward to your response (by email only please) which I hope will include a five year monitoring and reporting program.
Please note that in the interests of transparency and fairness for those involved, we may post both this approach and any responses received online.
While we have doubts about whether they will respond, any that are received will be published. We will give them until mid-February to do so.
As always, the NSC is fighting for shooters and shooters rights all day, every day. Help those who help you and join the NSC today.