Wednesday, 25 May 2016 15:46

Snap-happy NBN Co employee used iPhone during raids Featured

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An employee of NBN Co, who accompanied the Australian Federal Police during the recent raid on Labor Party functionaries, was allowed take 32 pictures of documents seized.

As reported by iTWire, a formal letter has been sent by Labor shadow defence spokesman Stephen Conroy to the AFP, claiming parliamentary privilege over all documents seized.

A letter from the ALP's lawyers, Galbally & O'Bryan, to the AFP Commander Paul Osborne, cites three individuals as having taken photographs during the raid.

The letter was written by partner Paul Galbally, after a meeting with Osborne, and refers to what they agreed to during the meeting.

Galbally wrote that it had been resolved that the digital photographs taken by Mr [name redacted] and Mr [name redacted] would be put on an USB stick and provided to the Clerk of the Senate.

He then made reference to a Mr S who had taken photographs on a mobile phone, and asked for these to be put on the same USB stick. It was also made clear that they should be deleted from the smartphone on which they were taken - which appears to be an iPhone, as there was a further reference that they should not be stored on iCloud.

The NBN staffer who accompanied the AFP on the raid has been identified as Simon Lee-Steere, NBN Co's general manager for security investigations.

Galbally also wrote that the AFP's technical advisers had said that the images could not be retrieved from the phone.

He wrote that he had been advised during the meeting that Mr S had disseminated the photos he took of documents and said this act was wrong and had the potential to undermine his clients' claim for privilege.

"I would be grateful if you could advise me why Mr S disseminated the documents when a clear claim for privilege had been made and acknowledged by the officers present. Further, under whose authority did he take such action?" Galbally wrote.

Coming as it did during an election campaign, the raid has raised many questions as to the neutrality of the AFP and exactly why NBN Co, a company constructing a public broadband network with no competitors in sight, has a need for commercial confidentiality.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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