Centrelink snoopers breach privacy

August 23, 2006 |

It seems some centrelink staffers have copper instincts when it comes to databases – have a sneak peak and see whose doing what.  Seven hundred and ninety breaches involving, in one way or another, 585 employees over a 2 year period smacks of a cultural problem.  It is an outrageous breach of privacy and Centrelink seems to have done something about it according to today’s Age.  Sacking, demoting, fining and reprimanding workers who access a persons record without authorisation is a good start. But why isn’t it a criminal offence. Surely it is criminal behaviour.  The real problem with privacy protection in Australia is that those in breach, especially at the commonwealth level, rarely find themselves in the legal gun.  The Privacy Commissioner is a toothless tiger and government departments would rather keep any punishment at an administrative level. Information is power and sooner or later someone is going to again be tempted to trip over to a keyboard and tap away.  No smart operator wants to leave open the option for him/her or one of their colleagues doing a stretch for a moment of weakness or opportunism.  It is a terrible weakness in our privacy protections. 

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