Aussie government failed to conduct privacy impact assessments on security measures

August 24, 2015 - 

An independent report has found that Australia’s federal government has failed to perform adequate privacy impact assessments on nearly 90 percent of the national security measures it has passed over the past 14 years, according to independent research, according to a report by Australian television program Lateline.

Privacy impact assessments (PIAs) are supposed to be conducted with public consultation and community debate whenever new intrusive laws or practices are proposed, to ensure the government does not collect more data than necessary and that the information is stored securely.

However, privacy advocate Roger Clarke told Lateline that the government only 20 of the 72 security-related laws it passed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks had any kind of PIA performed.

Additionally, Clarke found that only half of those PIAs were done in secret without any public consultation.

The laws related to a range of security measures including electronic spying, metadata and biometrics.

“The track record of government agencies is appalling on this matter,” said Clarke. “Of the 72 projects that I’ve looked at a grand total of three have been performed as they should have been performed and a grand total of five or possibly seven have been properly published.”

Of all the federal agencies, the Attorney-General’s department was found to have the worst track record, Clarke said.

The Attorney-General’s Department has defended their actions by stating that they were not obliged to conduct PIAs although they were routinely undertaken.

Two weeks ago, the Australian Senate passed the Migration Amendment to strengthen the country’s biometrics system by expanding the government’s power to collect biometrics from foreign nationals and Australian citizens at the country’s borders.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.