ACT furious after Auckland District police office accidentally releases nearly 150 email addresses of licensed firearm owners

The ACT Party is furious after the Auckland District police office accidentally released nearly 150 email addresses of licensed firearm owners.

Police sent out an email on Wednesday to a list of licensed firearms owners, adding 147 email addresses into the carbon copy address field - instead of the blind carbon copy address field.

ACT firearms spokesperson Nicole McKee said the latest breach showed the police couldn't be trusted with the gun registry, which was officially established last month. 

"What a fiasco, right? We're already struggling trying to get people to register firearms under the new regime and we've got police, once again, giving out details of firearms-licensed owners," she told AM. "We've already got a crime wave occurring in New Zealand and then we have licensed owners' details put out there again, so it's very disappointing - to say the least.

"We would like to see police being able to focus on enforcement of our laws rather than making the muck-ups they continuously do under firearms, so it's looking at what other agencies would be capable of picking this up and, especially, keeping secure those details of licensed firearm owners in New Zealand."

The latest breach comes after another privacy issue last year, during which sensitive documents were stolen from the former Auckland Central police station. 

Nearly 40 firearms licence applicants also had their privacy breached in 2021 after an email was sent advising the recipients to undertake a gun safety course - all of whom were copied into the same email

And, in 2019, a massive data breach also exposed firearms owners' personal details amid the gun buyback scheme in the wake of the Christchurch shooting. 

"Licensed firearm owners are very concerned at the way that they've been scapegoated for the events of 2019," McKee said.

"What we need - and what the ACT Party suggests - is good firearms law that brings everybody back into the fold. 

"We need to create that trust between New Zealand Police and licensed firearm owners again but it's really hard when police keep making these fundamental, basic mistakes."

Police confirmed the breach on Wednesday. Supt Richard Wilson, of the Firearms Safety Authority Te Tari Pūreke, said in a statement 147 people were impacted by the "human error" breach.

"This incident is being treated seriously by Te Tari Pūreke, who have lodged this as a privacy breach and will be notifying the Office of the Privacy Commissioner," Wilson said. "The email was not sent to any members of the wider public and only went to the group of licence holders.

"Te Tari Pūreke sincerely apologises to all those affected by this event."