AN E-mail bungle by Queensland Police has exposed the personal details of hundreds of the
state’s licensed firearm owners, sparking security concerns being raised by one of
Queensland’s peak pro-shooting organisations.
A police officer in the Moreton Police District, encompassing parts of the Moreton Bay
region, sent an e-mail to more than 350 licensed gun owners on Wednesday, advising them
to ensure their firearms security was in order following a series of break-ins in the region.
However, the sender did not hide the recipient’s e-mail addresses, meaning every single
person who received the e-mail also received the names and e-mail addresses of the other
Shooters Union Queensland president Graham Park said while it might sound like a
harmless error of the type anyone could make, it could have extremely serious
“Thanks to this error, the details of several hundred licensed gun owners have been
exposed including their names and e-mail addresses,” he said.
“It might not sound like much, but that alone is enough for someone with criminal intent to
start piecing together the location of hundreds of firearms in the area.”
Moreton District Officer Superintendent John Hallam said investigations showed human error was the cause of the breach of more than 1,200 email addresses.
“The email address of the licensed weapon holders was placed in the ‘to’ line of the email as opposed to the blind copy line,” he said.
“It was an honest mistake — there’s been nothing to indicate the officer did it for any other reason.
“The officer did endeavour to recall the email as soon as she realised what the error was but unfortunately that was unsuccessful.”
Mr Hallam acknowledged the concern from the shooting community.
“I accept that the error is unacceptable. I understand how it occurred but it is unacceptable,” he said.
“I understand there is a level of concern amongst the people that their personal details have been sent out.
“What was sent out was their email address and their email address only and it went to other licensed weapons holders.”
Shooters Union president Graham Park said the error cast more doubt on the firearm registry system in Queensland.
“This system is supposed to be a highly secure system,” he said.
Mr Park said while gun owners were, by legislation and their nature, among the very most
trustworthy and law-abiding people in the community, an additional concern was how the
information came to be mishandled in the first place.
“It seems a lot like all these e-mail addresses were somehow put in a spreadsheet or text
document or something like that, then copied into an e-mail address field,” he said.
“The fact there’s an option in the firearms management software to mass-extract e-mail
addresses is a gigantic security flaw that raises extremely serious questions about the
integrity of the firearms registry system in Queensland as a whole.
“What other data can be pulled out easily and transferred elsewhere?”
Shooters Union Australia has contacted the Police Minister requesting the situation be resolved – not just with an apology and a shrug, but a commitment to fix the issues and
ensure affected shooters are protected and compensated if they suffer any adverse affects
from the breach.
“The irony is one of the advice items from the police to licence-holders in the e-mail was
‘Don’t make it public knowledge that you possess firearms’,” Mr Park said.
“That’s now off the table for those several hundred gun owners, all because of a situation
outside their control and which shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”