Immigration privacy breach ‘outrageous’ as asylum seeker details published online
The Privacy Commissioner and the Immigration Department have launched investigations into how details of thousands of asylum seekers in Australia were inadvertently made accessible online.
The breach could potentially see asylum seekers who were previously ineligible for refugee status have their claims validated, one legal specialist says.
Refugee lawyer David Manne said the law was ”crystal clear that identification of a person seeking protection can result in them being granted protection on that basis itself”.
”It’s a fundamental principle of refugee law that a person seeking asylum should be free to make their claim free of disclosure of their identity to the authorities in their home country,” he said. He described the revelation as one of the most ”grave and dangerous breaches of privacy in Australian history”.
Guardian Australia reported on Wednesday the personal details of a third of asylum seekers held in Australia – making up about 10,000 people – had been revealed on the Immigration Department’s website.
Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said on Wednesday that he had spoken to Immigration and had ”been assured” the information was ”no longer publicly available”.
Describing the breach as a ”serious incident”, Mr Pilgrim said he would investigate how it occurred. He said Immigration would provide a detailed report.
Later on Wednesday, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison confirmed an ”immigration detention statistics report” released on the department’s website on February 11 ”inadvertently provided access to the underlying data source used to collate the report content which included private information on detainees”.
Mr Morrison welcomed Mr Pilgrim’s investigation and said Immigration Department secretary Martin Bowles had also asked KPMG to review how the breach occurred, with an interim report due next week.
The Immigration Minister said the ”unacceptable incident” was a ”serious breach of privacy” by the department.
Refugee Council of Australia president Phil Glendenning said the release of information was ”outrageous” and unprecedented.
He said the breach ran the risk of exposing people who were already vulnerable to ”very serious danger”.
Labor’s immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the breach was an ”enormous concern”.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.