AFP data breach: six cases of alleged police misconduct investigated
- Category: Police corruption and brutality
- Created: Saturday, 29 April 2017 23:49
- Written by Paul Farrell - Guardian UK
The Australian federal police conducted six internal investigations in the past 18 months into alleged professional misconduct of officers who had been newly approved to access telecommunications data, Guardian Australia can reveal.
The latest revelations will heighten concern about the AFP’s handling of Australians’ personal information, after it revealed it had unlawfully accessed a journalist’s phone records without a warrant.
The AFP commissioner, Andrew Colvin, admitted on Friday the agency had unlawfully accessed a journalist’s metadata without obtaining a “journalist information warrant”, a requirement imposed on it since 2015.
Following the federal government’s data retention amendments, the AFP also tightened up the list of officers who could sign off on internal authorisations for Australians’ metadata.
Guardian Australia obtained a list of the identities of these officers and sought access to professional standards investigations finalised in the past 18 months.
The documents released show there were six professional standards investigations launched.
While four of the matters were deemed to be “not established”, two were ruled as not requiring further investigation.
One of the matters was listed as a “non significant corruption issue” that was referred to the integrity commissioner. The professional standards investigation said the AFP officer had exercised their discretion not to take further action.
One related to an allegation that the officer disclosed information relating to the execution of two search warrants.
Guardian Australia queried whether any of the officers had their metadata roles revoked or suspended.
The AFP said in a statement that “as the matters disclosed ... did not require further action – there was no reduction or removal of delegations regarding metadata applications”.
Press freedom organisations and privacy advocates have condemned the AFP’s handling of the case, and have called for reform of Australia’s metadata law.
The agency’s disclosure on Friday coincided with the annual press freedom dinner in Sydney. The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance chief executive, Paul Murphy, said: “It really is a disgrace. There is a clear public interest in whistleblowers having the confidence to call out misconduct in government.
“That public interest has been thrown away. It’s been thrown away in legislation cloaked in national security.”
The commonwealth ombudsman is investigating the AFP’s handling of the journalist’s case.
The journalist’s identity remains unknown, and they not been informed by the agency that their personal information was unlawfully accessed.
Source : https://amp.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/apr/29/public-metadata-six-cases-of-alleged-police-misconduct-investigated