People Who Complained About Police at a BLM Protest Just Had Their Email Addresses Leaked

An Australian police department is "making inquiries" to find out how 150 email addresses were made public.
August 14, 2020, 2:35am
NSW police
Image by William West / AFP

Australian state police leaked the email addresses of more than 150 people who lodged formal complaints about Black Lives Matter protesters being pepper sprayed in Sydney.

The incident took place in the aftermath of mostly peaceful BLM protests on Saturday June 6, and saw New South Wales police officers macing at least five people at Sydney’s Central Station. Reports alleged that police had forced people into an enclosed section of the station and trapped them before using the pepper spray.

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Samuel Leighton-Dore, after seeing footage and speaking to those who were there, was one of many people who decided to complain.

“I called up multiple times,” he told Gizmodo, “[and] they said go to the LECC [Law Enforcement Conduct Commission]. Then the LECC said they didn’t see any reason for further investigation, and that they were giving it back to the NSW Police.”

Leighton-Dore said he received two emails from NSW Police following his complaints. One was from Police Chief Inspector Craig Lowery, which opened with “Dear Complainant” and went on to explain that after a “thorough review” of the matter “I have deemed… there is no reason to conduct a further internal investigation.”

The second email, received shortly thereafter, had the subject line “Complaint Outcome Letter [DLM=Sensitive:Personal]”. The original letter was attached, along with an additional page that read: “Please note; outcome letter was sent to all of the following complainants via email (Bcc recipients not show above)”. Below that text were more than 150 email addresses, including Leighton-Dore’s.

When Leighton-Dore called the police to complain, he was told to hold. Then he was hung up on. Another person Gizmodo spoke to also had their details included in the email and filed a complaint.

A NSW Police spokesperson has since confirmed in a statement to Gizmodo that an email was sent containing other people’s email addresses.

“At face value, it appears be an administrative error, however, we are making inquiries and will discuss with those whose email address was shared with the individual,” they said.

This isn’t the first time NSW Police has been embroiled in a potential privacy breach. In 2015, an officer was found to have illegally hacked a Sydney man’s private Facebook account in order to spy on another man who was later arrested and charged in relation to content he’d posted online. Magistrate Roger Brown declared at the time that a "criminal offence" had been committed by the officer’s "unauthorised access", and described the police’s conduct as "reprehensible".

Vice News reached out to NSW’s Information and Privacy Commission NSW for comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.

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