NSW Police illegally hacks Facebook page


blog You just can’t make this stuff up. In a court case last week, it emerged that the NSW Police Force has had a … less than legal relationship with the Facebook account of an individual who had been making fun of police officers online by posting extremely poorly doctored images of police Photoshopped with other images. The Sydney Morning Herald writes (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“The NSW Police Force illegally hacked the private Facebook account of a Sydney man in a move branded a reprehensible and “criminal offence” by a magistrate.”

Without wanting to comment too far on this case, I would have thought it should have been reasonably obvious to any member of the NSW Police that breaking into someone else’s Facebook page without a warrant was a bit of a no-no. If a serious crime has been committed, there are mechanisms for police to work with Facebook on this kind of thing.

This issue also demonstrates just why the Government’s new Data Retention laws need to be so carefully administered … members of the police forces are human like everyone else and will fall prey to temptation to use their high-level surveillance access for relatively trivial purposes. Internet Australia chief executive Laurie Patton says about this episode:

“This demonstrates how important it is to have internal controls on who can access data as well as which agencies are legally entitled to trawl through people’s private and personal information. It’s why we need to restrict access under the Data Retention Act to as few agencies as possible and for them to be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place to prevent unauthorised access”.



  1. The most concerning thing here isn’t so much that a single police officer decided to stalk someone online, but that the entire force at a very high level tried to legitimise those actions and suppress disclosure and public knowledge of the incident. The police force believe they are a law unto themselves, and they very arrogantly believe they have every right to behave like this – they deludedly believe that this sort of behaviour is in the public interest.

    What this demonstrates is that access to communications and location data should have arms-length oversight and authorisation. Police shouldn’t just be allowed to access anything they like, whenever they like, completely unrestricted. They aren’t just targeting proven, convicted criminals and terrorists, they are vindictively pursuing people who just say things they don’t like. I’m what you would call a ‘model citizen’ in many respects, but I’m sorely tempted to create a bunch of anti-police meme images, and encouraging others to do the same. The public lose respect in the police when they prove themselves to not be acting in the public interest… Well done, NSW police *slow golf clap*

  2. If this is a serious criminal offence, why have the police involved not been charged?

    • Nepotism?

      Police Prosecutor unwilling to suffer the wrath of taking on illegal activity in the Force?

      What’s more galling is that the activities was this part:
      “After Sydney magistrate Roger Brown warned that a “criminal offence” had been committed by the “unauthorised access”, a senior member of the NSW Police hierarchy attempted to intervene with two sworn affidavits “supportive” of the actions.”

      So not only had a criminal offence been committed, in the eyes of the magistrate, but a senior member of the NSW Police Force attempted to justify those alleged criminal activities?

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