From The Register…
Australia’s identity card system 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 Centrepoint involving 600 staff. Staff were found to have inappropriately accessed databases containing citizens’ information. The databases are part of a massive federal Government smart card project which will link medical, welfare, tax and other personal data on Australia’s 17m citizens.
In total, 19 Centrepoint 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 Centrepoint. 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 staff had repeatedly been warned about the inappropriate accessing of records…
I expect the UK Home Office will issue a statement saying that it couldn’t happen here because it will be in charge of the proposed system. No wonder satirists are having a thin time at the moment. It’s hard to keep up with reality.
Thanks to Bill Thompson for the link.