Breach of privacy information of asylum seeker detainees held in Australia's camps

February 20, 2014

Breach of privacy information of asylum seeker detainees held in Australia’s camps

According to news reports from news agencies and Australian government sources, a breach of confidential personal data of detained asylum seekers has occurred. According to these news reports, this leak of personal and confidential data by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, may have happened by oversight,. This breach it is being said is likely one of the most serious breaches of privacy in the history of that country. The data released by mistake and oversight by the department concerned itself constituted a large database and had quite intimate details of asylum seeker detainees and it was acknowledged by the department itself that this kind of a breach of privacy was wholly avoidable and was totally unacceptable.

Data such as ‘full name of the person’, ‘nationality’, ‘place or location’, ‘arrival date’ and ‘information pertaining to boat arrival’ was available/revealed/leaked on the department’s website. According to the same news reports, every person held in Australia’s mainland detention facility and on Christmas Island has had his identification details revealed. Not only this, several thousand other detainees who were part of the community of detainees and were held under the detention program have had their personal details such as the above made public.   

Details such as country/place of origin of the detainee have also been revealed in the breach and news reports say that this could cause and represent a major embarrassment to the government. Countries identified in the leak include Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, and Syria. The news reports also raise the question as to whether the availability of such information publicly could result in or contribute to harm of some kind, to the detainees. Because of the latest developments (leakage of private or confidential information of these ‘asylum seeker detainees’), it is being said that the department could also be held guilty of violating Australia’s laws related to privacy, which place limits on the disclosure of personal/private information held by the government and its agencies.  

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