Weapons Licensing Branch privacy breach

A private individual, clearly a firearms licensee, is named in Weapons Licensing Branch correspondence recently carelessly released to a member of the public by the Queensland Police Service.  The firearm he is looking to import is discussed.  In one of the documents, a Weapons Licensing Branch team leader writes back to the licensee:

Thank you for your enquiry of 9 April 2016 regarding a [make of] rifle.  I apologise for the delay in responding.  The rifle you are querying is considered to fall within the Queensland Category B classification.

We’ve alerted the individual to the breach to minimise any privacy impacts, but this raises serious questions about the capacity of QPS to protect the private firearms registry information they handle.

QPS protects firearms registry data with stickers

Other documents recently released by QPS explain that new registry staff are briefed on privacy as part of their induction.  The documents also reveal staff have to complete a tick-the-box “online self-paced” training course.  Staff are given stickers to remind them about privacy.

We would like to add some further suggestions to their rigorous program:

  • Red lollipops emblazoned with “privacy breaches suck.”
  • A giant sign with a replaceable card for the number of days, “It has been X days since our last leak of Weapons Licensing information.”
  • A man in a giant chicken costume (the Privacy Poultry) can visit once a month to remind everyone that paltry privacy practices are unacceptable.  (Privacy Poultry lives in homage to Homer Simpson’s Safety Salamander.)

The firearms registry: a criminal’s shopping list

The Police love to blame law-abiding firearm owners when firearms get stolen from safes, but the firearms registry itself is a shopping list for criminals.  How many firearms were stolen from the safe storage of law-abiding firearms owners because criminals accessed QPS data (including where QPS just accidentally released the information)?

Concerned about the security of your private information at QPS?  Write to the Police Minister today:police@ministerial.qld.gov.au


The release of personal information described in this post occurred on page 2 of reference RTI/19838.