Centrelink privacy breaches ‘disturbing’ (ABC)

From ABC this evening, highlighting a problem I hadn’t really considered when I wrote about my thoughts on the change management and other implications of the smart card system.

The man heading up a privacy task force for the Federal Government’s smart card system says he is deeply disturbed by Centrelink’s privacy breaches.

Centrelink has sacked 19 of its workers and another 92 have resigned after it was discovered staff were looking at and changing the records of family and friends.

Former Australian Competition and Consumer Condition (ACCC) chairman Professor Allan Fels is watching over the implementation of the new smart card system, which will be needed to access health and welfare services by 2010.

He says the Centrelink scandal highlights why data on the card should be kept to a minimum.

“The Centrelink revelations are deeply disturbing,” he said.

“I take some comfort from the fact that the Government has caught them and punished them.

“But there’s still a huge weight on the Government to provide full, proper, legal and technical protection of privacy with the access card.”

More from news.com.au:

Labor has called for the privacy commissioner to investigate the breaches, in which 600 Centrelink staff browsed the welfare records of friends, family, neighbours and ex-lovers without authorisation.

Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley’s take on it in a press conference this evening:

BEAZLEY: It’s always good when you find out that there is a problem. It’s very bad that the problem has developed. This is so much of a piece with this Government. You find bits and pieces of problems emerging in the Immigration system. Then you find other problems emerging in the Department of Defence. Then you find further problems now emerging in Centrelink. Yes, it’s good that Centrelink detects it but it’s bad that it actually developed. We have had a government which has been great on spin for the 10 years it’s been in office, hopeless on delivery. And part of delivery is competent administration.

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