NSW plods panned for illegal surveillance

Faked Facebook profile not a hit with magistrate

A Sydney magistrate has called “criminal” a vindictive operation in which NSW police snooped on someone's private Facebook posts.

Exactly why a senior constable called Daniel Moss decided to get himself an invitation under a fake identity to see the private posts of “Rhys Brown” (in real name Rhys Halvey) isn't given in this Sydney Morning Herald story, but the constable decided he didn't like things Halvey was saying about the police.

Throw in a badly-photoshopped image of Miley Cyrus twerking superimposed on a police officer, and the plods decided to bring charges against Halvey for “using a carriage service to offend” (that is, offend the police), and publishing an indecent article.

When the case seemed to go badly in front of magistrate Dr Roger Brown, the police service first stepped in with affidavits from senior officers supporting the operation; then tried to get the magistrate to skip further questioning of constable Moss; and finally, the police withdrew the case.

Magistrate Dr Roger Brown described the charges as trivial, and the snooping as reprehensible. He singled out the attitude of senior police for special mention, since instead of punishing the officer, they tried to endorse the surveillance.

“Even after they have been caught out, it would appear no adverse consequences are going to be suffered by those responsible because the illegal actions are supported by police at the most senior level”, he said.

Once again, the best argument against Australia's data retention regime has come not from privacy or civil liberties lobbies, but from the police. ®

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