Thursday, June 22, 2006

Australian bungle sees private documents sold

The Government of Queensland in Australia apparently has a procedure for dealing with excess paper: Shred then send to an outsourcer to recycle. Someone forgot the all-important "shred" step and, as a result, birth certificates, blank cheques and other bits of personal information were released into the wild, according to the Australian.

My favourite quote is at the end:

Bungle sees private documents sold | | The Australian:

June 22, 2006

THE Queensland Government is investigating how people's personal documents including birth certificates and wills were sold for paper recycling without being shredded first.

Public Works Minister Robert Schwarten said the Government was investigating reports that sensitive documents had turned up intact in a Brisbane man's workplace.

The documents reportedly came from various Government departments, including the Attorney-General's office, which declined to comment today.

Mr Schwarten said it took privacy breaches seriously.

"Any firm that compromises that will be on a one-way ticket out of business as far as we are concerned," Mr Schwarten said.

"We are not interested in doing business with people who do not honour the very stringent business conditions we set."

The documents, including blank bank cheques and wills, turned up in the workplace of a Brisbane man, whose wife spoke to the Ten Network.

"With the information that I have here, I could go to town," the woman told the network.

"I could assume someone else's identity. There's wills, there's blank bank cheques, there's birth certificates and marriage certificates.

"They are supposed to be shredded and then outsourced and sold as recycled paper but unfortunately, they have just been sold, not shredded."

Queensland Council of Civil Liberties (QCCL) vice-president Terry O'Gorman said the bungle showed the need for updated legislation and a privacy commissioner.

"Until those laws are introduced, this sort of gross invasion of privacy, including victims' details from the Department of Justice, will continue to occur," Mr O'Gorman said.

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said the Government was at fault.

"I'm not sure even a privacy commissioner would be able to fix this, because it's the Government's basic bungling of fundamental issues," he said.

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