NZ Firearms Safety Authority data leak

Registries criticised after NZ Firearms Safety Authority bungle exposes gun owners

New Zealand’s recently formed Firearms Safety Authority has managed to accidentally leak the details of nearly 150 firearms licence holders in the Auckland region.

According to The New Zealand Herald, some of the 147 email addresses revealed in the breach included police officers, government officials, lawyers, company directors and other prominent Auckland residents.

Firearms Safety Authority operations director Superintendent Richard Wilson said the leak was not caused by a systems breach, and was a case of human error, but was still being treated seriously.

“A rapid review has determined that the privacy breach came about from human error when the email addresses were incorrectly pasted into the CC (Carbon Copy) address field, rather than the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) address field,” he said.

“This incident is being treated seriously by [the Firearms Safety Authority], who have lodged this as a privacy breach and will be notifying the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.”

Shooters Union Australia vice president David Brown said the leak, even though it took place in NZ, was a textbook example of why firearm registries were a bad idea.

“Sure, this time the info only went to other gun owners but it’s still concerning and makes you wonder what other issues there might be with their data security practices,” he said.

“There’s plenty of reasons a licensed firearms owner might not want anyone they don’t know personally — even other licensed firearms owners — from knowing they have guns, and breaches like this compromise their privacy and security as a result.

“Registries have cost lives and been a shopping list for criminals in every jurisdiction around the world wherever they exist. They should be scrapped.”

It’s not just our cousins across the ditch who have run into issues with authorities accidentally CC-ing licensed gun owners in emails.

Queensland Police were involved in a similar incident in 2021, revealing the email addresses of around 500 firearms licensees in the Moreton police region — ironically while emailing them to remind licensees about firearms security requirements in the wake of break-ins in the region.




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Royce Wilson

Royce is something rare in Australia: A journalist who really likes guns. He has been interested in firearms as long as he can remember, and is particularly interested in military and police firearms from the 19th Century to the present. In addition to historical and collectible firearms, he is also a keen video gamer and has written for several major newspapers and websites on that subject.