Immigration Department responds to G20 privacy breach

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Immigration Department responds to G20 privacy breach

Sets up privacy task force.

The Department of Immigration has announced a set of measures to strengthen its control over the personal and private information it holds, following a string of embarrasing data breaches.

As first reported by The Guardian, the new approach centres around an External Accountability Task Force that has been established within the department's Integrity, Security and Assurance Division.

Assistant secretary Stephen Wood will head up the task force, which will focus on strengthening the privacy protections and information management of the department, and liaise with the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

In February last year, the department was forced to admit that it had leaked details of around ten thousand detained asylum seekers on Christmas Island.

More recently, an employee sent a message containing the passport and visa details of United States and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin and other world leaders attending the G20 summit in Brisbane to the wrong person, after they failed to notice Microsoft Outlook had autofilled the wrong email into the address bar.

The department yesterday responded to criticism of its handling of the incident, particularly its decision not to notify the leaders affected by the breach.

In a statement it explained it assess the need to notify on a "case-by-case basis" considering "the known distribution of the material, whether it could be retrieved, deciphered or readily understood if found, and likelihood of harm being suffered as a result of the breach".



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