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Australian authorities accessing personal information without warrants

SYDNEY, May 22 (Xinhua) -- New South Wales (NSW) Police and Australian immigration authorities are accessing personal information of NSW transport users without a warrant, Fairfax Media reported late Friday.

Fairfax Media revealed there have been 166 law enforcement requests from the NSW Police and 15 from the Department of Immigration for information connected to transport payment cards ( Opal) without a warrant. Personal information was disclosed on 57 occasions.

A transport NSW spokesman said they had only released information for around 30 percent of law enforcement requests, relating to missing persons or persons suspected of conducting a crime.

However, President of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, said the fact the transport department were refusing two-thirds of law enforcement requests for Opal information suggested police were attempting to abuse their access to the information.

"That decision (on releasing information) should be in the hands of a judge, or a person who issues a warrant," Blanks said.

The Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission and other agencies are also permitted access to the information.

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