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Anti-Marriage Equality Group Breaks Silence Over Alleged Data Breach

The anti-marriage equality group has denied any wrongdoing.

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Anti-marriage equality group, Marriage Alliance, has denied any wrongdoing over accusations they improperly obtained the emails of Liberal party members.

Earlier this year, several current and former members of the NSW Liberal party complained they had received emails from Marriage Alliance to private addresses they had never handed over to the organisation.

The Liberal party launched an investigation over the numerous complaints. Marriage Alliance spokesperson Sophie York emailed its database in May apologising for the inconvenience.

In May, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner was asked to investigate both the Liberal party and Marriage Alliance over the matter, and wrote to both parties on June 1.

The Liberal party responded promptly, denying wrongdoing. However, the OAIC's communications to Marriage Alliance – including letters, emails and phone calls – went ignored for two months.

In a letter received by the OAIC on August 3, Marriage Alliance director Tio Faulkner said the group had not sought or obtained any member list from the Liberal party.

"Our communication database has been formed by the consolidation of lists provided by our alliance members," he wrote. "The Liberal party is not a member of this alliance."

Faulkner was formerly the president of the ACT Liberals and a staffer for senator Zed Seselja.

Faulkner suggested the complainants email may have "inadvertently migrated across" from the email list of an alliance member, or that a third party may have registered the complainant to receive Marriage Alliance emails.

BuzzFeed News understands the complainant does not accept this explanation, given the number of Liberal-connected people who had their emails accessed without consent.

Faulkner wrote that he was "willing to draft a letter to the Complainant expressing our regrets that our email may have caused him an inconvenience".

The letter is dated July 13, but was received by the OAIC on August 3. Faulkner apologised for the delay, saying Marriage Alliance was "not in a position to attend to this matter before today".






Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

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