Gun owners fears after private details leaked by police

Hundreds of Queensland firearms owners say they have serious safety concerns after their personal details were exposed by police.

An officer in the Moreton Police District sent an email to more than 350 licensed gun owners on Wednesday, advising them to ensure their firearms security was in order after a recent spate of break-ins in the region.

However, the sender did not hide the recipient’s email addresses, meaning every person who received the email also received the names and email addresses of all the other recipients.

A Queensland Police spokesperson said an inquiry had been launched immediately.

“Preliminary inquiries suggest human error in that the email addresses for recipients of the generic weapons licensing email were included in the ‘to’ field instead of the ‘BCC’ field,” the spokesperson said.

“Once the error was identified the group email was recalled with unread emails deleted.”

Shooters Union Queensland president Graham Park said while it might have been a harmless error “anyone could make”, it could have extremely serious consequences.

“Thanks to this error, the details of several hundred licensed gun owners have been exposed, including their names and email 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.”

The police spokesperson said QPS acknowledged that the mistake had caused “confusion and anguish” for which the service apologised for.

“The inquiry into how this error occurred is ongoing; however, the Moreton District has immediately contacted all officers within the district to remind them of the importance of double-checking emails and the high value and importance the QPS places on maintaining the privacy of our stakeholders,” the spokesperson said.

“Any misuse or unauthorised release of personal information is not acceptable.”

Mr Park said it appeared as though the email addresses were “somehow put in a spreadsheet or text document” and then copied into the email address field.

“The fact there’s an option in the firearms management software to mass-extract email addresses is a gigantic security flaw that raises extremely serious questions about the integrity of the firearms registry system in Queensland as a whole,” he said.

The union has contact 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 effects from the breach,” Mr Park said.

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