COLFO - Interim report on claims of access to police notification system

December 3, 2019

This is an interim report on your request that we now follow up on claims reported to us yesterday of access to the Police notification system, and access to information they should not have seen concerning other people –

We had no reason to doubt the evidence of the person who provided the screen shot material we examined and reported on yesterday. We supplied redacted example pages. After further enquiry we continue to believe that our advice yesterday was justified.

He reports that the system remained accessible to him well after the Police claimed to have shut down the platform. The many pages of screen shot information he provided were consistent with his description of the material he said he was seeing. We recognised some of the names and information in that material. .

We can also report on a claim of access to the information from a person who believes he did not log in as a dealer, yet had access to much personal information that he should not have seen. We have had an extended direct conversation with him. He appears to be familiar with the notification system. He logged in to notify a number of firearms.  The information he described was consistent with what we saw in the screenshot material.

We have not had enough responses to other follow up queries and calls to report with confidence on the other people who were either described to us, or to the other lawyer for COLFO on this, as having claimed to access it on Monday.

We recommend that you be conservative and not enter into further argument or discussion about how many people have accessed the relevant info, and when, until either we can contact all those people, and assess their evidence, or the Police can give an authoritative report. We would not be surprised if some of those who claimed yesterday to have accessed the system were ‘copy cat’ because we have ascertained that a number of the calls came after the initial COLFO warning to its supporters.

We suggest that you also advise the Police that we have not been able to verify the claim yesterday the specific number of records accessed and downloaded. We are not aware of any reason for it to be false, but it has not been verified.

We may not be able to give you an early definitive report. A number of people are very concerned to minimise their involvement in anything that they think could identify them, and antagonise the Police. Some are waiting on valuations of the firearms to be surrendered. They are not willing to waive privilege. We understand the reasons for not getting prompt and willing follow-up cooperation.

The Police say that the website software change occurred last week. Among our reasons for urging particular caution is that it seems odd that COLFO supporters accessing the system over the weekend did not report seeing more information than they should have.  Among the calls to COLFO or its lawyers were a number from people who claimed to have accessed the data on Monday. They appeared not to be dealers.  Though it is unlikely to affect what should happen now, given the number of people who would have had access to the data even if the privileged access was confined to dealers (bearing in mind staff numbers) we will continue to work on this over the next several days.

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