Feeds

Oz 'pseudo-ID card' database racked by identity fraud claims

19 sacked, 92 resigned

Security for virtualized datacentres

Australia's citizen database was routinely searched for personal reasons by government agency employees, some of whom have been sacked. Police are now investigating allegations of identity fraud resulting from the security breaches.

There were 790 security breaches at government agency Centrelink involving 600 staff. Staff were found to have inappropriately accessed databases containing citizens' information.

The databases are used to administer social security, pension and unemployment benefits. Prime Minister John Howard is said to be considering a proposal which would use this database for a new national identity card which is under consideration.

In total 19 Centrelink employees have been sacked and 92 others have resigned. Police are conducting investigations into five employees, they said.

The man charged with protecting citizens' privacy in relation to the project said that the government must do more to prevent this kind of security breach when so much vital information is gathered in one place.

"The Centrelink revelations are deeply disturbing,” Professor Allan Fels told Australian ABC radio. “I take some comfort from the fact that the government has caught them and punished them, but there is still a huge weight now on the government to provide full, proper legal and technical protection of privacy with the access card.”

The police have confirmed that investigations are ongoing after five referrals were made to it from Centrelink. At least one of the cases is believed to involve allegations of the establishment of fake identities to be used to receive payments.

The investigation took two years and involved the use of sophisticated spying equipment. Union officials said that staff had repeatedly been warned about the inappropriate accessing of records.

"Customer records should only be accessed for business reasons and we do not tolerate staff surfing the details of family and friends or peeking at records of neighbours," said Centrelink chief executive Jeff Whalan. "As a result we revamped our techniques to assist us to keep improper conduct in check, and we are committed to maintaining that process."

Australian government minister Joe Hockey, who is responsible for the smart card project, told Channel Seven news there that the privacy breaches will not derail the plan, which will continue to be implemented.

Editor's note, 29/08/2006: Some of our Australian readers pointed out inaccuracies in the original version of this story. These have been corrected. OUT-LAW apologises for these errors.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.