How secure is our registry?

Imagine if criminals hacked into Victoria’s firearms registry. 

Tech giants such as Yahoo and Sony have had their systems hacked, so it is not hard to imagine that our registry is a viable target. 

Importantly, we don’t know how well – or poorly – it is protected.

 The registries: are they a key vulnerability?

There’s no doubt the Victoria Police hold information which is valuable to every criminal.  Information about us.

Normally holders of private information, such as what is in our bank accounts, is subject to commonly accepted assurance practices which involve independent verification.

VicPol does not do this.

Only recently, details of over 8,000 licensed shooters were inadvertently released by the Game Management authority.  All on the strength of an email attachment.  While it was accidental, it shows the danger that the poor management of data can be.

The security of firearms is a shared responsibility

Responsibility for maintaining the security of firearms doesn’t just fall on the firearms owner.

It also falls on our regulators who have a duty-of-care to keep your information secure. If a gun is stolen, then it shouldn’t be just the owner who is questioned by the police.

As is the case with money sitting in our bank accounts, the security of our firearms is useless if the information is not sufficiently protected.

No public assurance exists in Victoria

Good business practices follow established standards.  For example, businesses which comply with ISO 9000, are certifying they have quality management processes.

When it comes to the protection of information on firearms held by Victoria’s 200,000 licensed shooters, we are entitled to ask what assurance does Victoria Police provide?

We don’t know.

What we do know is that the GMA leak follows similar data breaches by, in our understanding, every other firearms registry in Australia.

We need independently and credible assurance of the security of our registry

We believe the Victorian Auditor General’s Office should audit the security around the data held on Victoria’s firearm registry.

We believe it should provide a certificate of assurance to parliament every second year.

Who should pay for any improvements?

Audits often find room for improvement. If changes to our registry are needed, then the question is who should pay?

Come along and have your say!

Gun owners have been paying for the management of our firearms registry from their licence and registration fees for decades.

If improvements were needed, then it needs to be funded out of VicPol’s budget: shooters should not have to pay a second time.

If the costs of this outweigh the benefits – which was the case in New Zealand and Canada – then that’s another matter the government should be prepared to have an open discussion about.

Without assurance, there cannot be confidence

No accreditation means no confidence.

The government, community and shooters are entitled to expect confidence that information held by our registry is safe and never be stolen or leaked.  Like a bank. In line with some published industry standard.

Otherwise, as we saw with the GMA leak, there can be no confidence that our Registry can live up to it’s obligation of shared responsibility.

  1. Dr Malcolm McKay

    The security of data held by Registry is indeed an important matter but it raises the wider matter of the necessity for registration. As the law stands transactions involving sale or transfer of registerable firearms must be conducted through a licensed dealer The dealer’s transactions are reported monthly and contain the basic data that is reflected in the registration data. Added to that data gathering is the requirement for a Permit to Acquire which must be issued by Registry prior to the actual transaction taking place – so in effect a firearm transaction is actually noted twice.

    A further complication to the process of registration is the regulatory change made in 2003 which required that previously exempt antique pistols (muzzle loading, or those taking obsolete forms of ammunition dating from the 19th century) needed to be registered. This meant that pistols that were so old that they had no modern history of criminal misuse were added to the burden of Registry.

    The reason for this useless make-work addition to Registry’s workload seems to have been caused by confusing modern reproductions of these antiques used by black powder shooters (which because they were being used by licensed shooters, did rightly require appropriate licensing and registration) with the real antiques which by and large were not shot due to age, value and other considerations. In fact these had been exempt from registration since 1984 as it was conceded then, quite correctly, that they were not a threat to public safety. And if these were used by shooters then those shooters were required to have the appropriate licences.

    In effect this was an expensive waste of time for Registry and collectors of antique pistols alike and one which was never ever adequately justified by our regulators in the form of data that showed criminal misuse to support this retrograde step. In fact it was a prime example of legislation being written and enforced in the manner discussed here recently concerning the overall lack of firearms knowledge demonstrated by our regulatory authorities.

    This is not a criticism of Registry because I can say that in many years of dealing with them I personally have had no problems with Registry, the Registrar or the staff. However the added make work exercises like the double handling as I outlined above in the transaction process and the requirement to treat antique obsolete 19th century firearms in the same manner as modern pistols are unnecessary additions to the workload of an understaffed and under-resourced regulatory body. So to close the question is do we actually need registration or can the process be simplified by removing make-work activities thus freeing up scarce resources for proper management of firearms matters.

  2. Dr Malcolm
    I think the answer to the do we need registration question would receive a resounding “NO” and the reasons would be many and varied, the hardship is trying to convince legislators that registration does not and can not prevent crime when they along with most of the non shooting general public have been brainwashed by the anti-gun minority in to believing it does, so long as we have peanuts like Philip Alpers feeding them as much crap as they can handle and politicians signing us up for the United Nations anti gun policies which they have (see GCA website for the regular reports sent to the UN by our governments) then i cant see registration going away any time soon, we can only continue to try and replace the anti’s in Canberra with politicians that dont suck up to the UN, such as Pauline, SFFP, Leyonhjelm, etc, in other words vote the bastards out of their job.

  3. What a waste of time and unnecessary burden the Registry is! I hope you are successful in the fight to bring sanity to the system.

  4. I would like to see the Government justify the cost of maintaining a registry and the Public Safety achieved for this massive outlay of taxpayers funds, If the same amount of energy was committed in exactly the same discriminatory unnecessary and overbearing manner to vehicle licences, there would be a dramatic saving of lives on Australian Roads.
    If a motorist committed an offence under the same reasoning as with firearms, their vehicle would be crushed, receive minimum 10 years goal, and they would never ever get another license.
    Another proven sign of inept discriminatory Government.
    The Change must come via the Ballot Box, so get with it Australia.

  5. To further add to the good doctor’s comments about the costs involved in the registration of firearms, I suggest we take a look from the quality control aspect. Quite simply put – every single point where confidential information is handled MUST be effectively managed or subject to procedure(s) which is consistent with the entire system. Hence let’s not get as far as our good friends the Licensing Department in the Police force, whom I’m sure everyone there has already received training in the correct handling of state secrets and confidential information. I’m suggesting that we look at the local gun shops and their staff. That’s the first point where our confidential information handled regarding the procurement of a firearm in our name and etc. What degree of training and procedures for the handling of confidential information CONSISTENT with that of the Firearms Licensing/Registry, have been stipulated and enforced there? Oh, it would be impossible and impractical for all the staff of every gun shop in Victoria to undergo such training and appropriate procedures be installed, etc. Well then why even bother with the whole registration exercise in the first place??? It’s full of holes. And, as the good doctor proposed, a total waste of tax payers’ money going through said holes…

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