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Immigration Dept: we have NO IDEA how many people saw asylum-seeker data

Metadata-slurping Oz gummint can't read its own logfiles

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Here's why Australia's government wants the telecoms industry to do its metadata collection for it: it can't read its own syslogs.

Following an astonishing cock-up earlier this year, in which the Department of Immigration published the private details of thousands of asylum seekers in a statistical publication meant only to release aggregate data, The Guardian Australia made an FOI request to discover the department's response to the privacy breach.

The correspondence includes the advice to immigration minister Scott Morrison that “The department is unable to identify how many people may have downloaded the information.”

In other words, the system logs of the Department of Immigration's Microsoft-based Website apparently don't collect data about hits on individual publications on the site. The best the department could tell the minister is that there were “398 views of the page that included a link to the report”.

Demonstrating that the department's “give us back our document” demand (made to activist and journalist Asher Wolfe in February) wasn't an aberration, the minister is also told that while the offending document had been deleted from the Website, “the department believes that if a person has downloaded or saved the report, they can still access the personal information”.

The Guardian also notes: “A separate FoI request confirms that the department’s analytical service, IBM Digital Analytics, was not given the task of measuring downloads of all file types on the site, which means that the full number of downloads of the document may never be known.” ®

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