In the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), police are pushing for new powers that circumvent the checks and balances of the legal system, highlighting a worldwide trend in lazy policing that seeks to make police work easier while fundamentally removing essential oversight that keeps the justice system fair.
Under a police proposal currently before the government, the NSW Police Force would no longer require a judge’s sign-off to gain access to the bank statements of people they merely suspect of engaging in criminal conduct.
The proposal would eliminate the requirement for a magistrate or registrar of a court to sign off on a “notice to produce” before police can compel banking institutions to hand over documentation, such as a suspected criminal’s bank statements.
More worryingly, the latest attempt at making police jobs easier is being disingenuously claimed as a requirement of Australia’s new data retention laws.
The head of NSW Police’s Fraud and Cyber Crime Squad likened the proposal to the way telecommunications metadata is sought from telecom companies, which requires only the sign-off a senior officer before companies.
The statement is worrying, as if police begin to use bank data they way they abuse metadata, every citizen’s bank account information will end up in an easily searchable police database, which can be used any way police like.
In addition to be a shining example of lazy policing, where police simply want to remove legal safeguards to their activities the Australian case also demonstrates the slippery slope of warrantless access
Once warrantless access to personal data is used in one sphere, people in other areas begin pushing for warrantless access as well.