Coming on the back of a flurry of alarming stories about police and state and federal governments pushing for new powers to enter homes without warrants to plant surveillance devices and monitor any and all internet activity; of new laws that will allow police to conduct full body searches on anybody they don't like the look of during September's APEC conference; detaining possible "troublemakers" during APEC in a fleet of "mobile prison" buses, and the more recent detention of a suspect who was held without charge for twelve days and then released, without charge, this "accidental" e-mail release could not have come at a worse time.
This morning, the Sydney Morning Herald received an e-mail that stated, ominously :
"Testing the power to arrest anybody".Naturally, the NSW police claim this was all a big "mistake".
Perhaps so, but the explanation offered up to the Herald makes the "mistake" sound like anything but :
"The email was accidentally generated when a member of our IT [Information Technology] department was doing some testing on the back-end of our website, while looking at ways to improve the distribution of our media releases to you," said Tim Archer, media manager at NSW Police.
"The email was not generated by the Police Media Unit and was not relevant to any police operation or announcement. It was a simple internal test using random text which should not have been sent externally, so apologies if it caused some confusion in news rooms."
The SMH said the email arrived this morning, was three lines long and started with the words :
"Test - Arrest anybody".Then came tomorrow's date. And then the line "Testing the power to arrest anybody."
"Random text", eh?
The more believable version might have been that the IT people testing the media release service were having a bit of a joke, and wrote the disturbing line and then accidentally fired off an email to someone on their media list. In this case, the smh.com.au.
But with all the other Big Brother-ish, police state-like new laws and opportunities for arrest and detention coming online for police for September's APEC summit, the "mistake" email actually sounds like an internal memo that got loose.
One that was alerting other police that they were going to conduct a test tomorrow, where they would arrest "anybody", as a way of testing the new powers being given to them.
We'll see who gets arrested tomorrow in Sydney, and for what reason.