November 30, 2020

Volume X, Number 335

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November 30, 2020

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"Major systemic failure”: The Federal Court of Australia published full names of asylum seekers on the Commonwealth Courts Portal

The Federal Court of Australia has suffered a catastrophic data breach in which the names of individuals seeking protection visas in Australia have been published on the publicly available Commonwealth Courts Portal database for years.

Ordinarily, the files of such applicants are listed by pseudonyms which are a collection of numbers and letters.

Given that authorities in foreign countries can access the publicly available database, the potential is that they can match the information against their own records to identify those seeking asylum. If those individuals are denied protection visas in Australia and returned to their country of origin, there is a very real and serious risk of authorities inflicting serious harm on those individuals.

What’s also concerning is that according to the ABC, the Federal Court was first warned about this breach some years ago, followed by multiple warnings on a case-by-case basis. However, as outlined by the ABC, it has been alleged by a migration lawyer that the Court “failed to grasp the systemic nature of the problem” and as such failed to fix the issue.

A spokesperson for the Federal Court described the disclosure as a “major systemic failure”, given that the individuals’ names were published on the database for a number of years, and that the Court has identified approximately 400 asylum seekers, so far, whose full names had been published next to their pseudonyms.

Copyright 2020 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 99
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About this Author

Cameron Abbott, Technology, Attorney, Australia, corporate, KL Gates Law Firm
Partner

Mr. Abbott is a corporate lawyer who focuses on technology, telecommunications and broadcasting transactions. He assists corporations and vendors in managing their technology requirements and contracts, particularly large outsourcing and technology procurements issues including licensing terms for SAP and Oracle and major system integration transactions.

Mr. Abbott partners with his clients to ensure market leading solutions are implemented in to their businesses. He concentrates on managing and negotiating complex technology solutions, which...

+61.3.9640.4261
Rob Pulham Corporate Attorney K&L Gates
Special Counsel

Rob Pulham is an experienced corporate advisory and transactional lawyer with an active technology and privacy practice representing companies in the energy, manufacturing, mining, retail, health and financial services sectors, as well as government and not for profit organisations. He has extensive experience advising customers and vendors in the technology industry, with particular focus on software licensing, data privacy and protection, and systems integration projects. In his role as a senior corporate lawyer, Mr. Pulham reviews organisational policies and practices...

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Senior Attorney

Ms. Aggromito is a senior lawyer in the lawyer in the Melbourne commercial technology and sourcing team focusing on IT, privacy and data protection.

+61.3.9205.2027
Rebecca Gill Commercial Technology and Sourcing Lawyer Melbourne K&L Gates
Rebecca

Ms. Gill is a lawyer in our Corporate and Transactional team at the Melbourne office.

Primary Practice

Commercial Technology and Sourcing

Education

  • J.D., Melbourne School of Law University of Melbourne, 2018
  • B.A., University of Melbourne, 2014
  • Certificate I in Vocational Preparation, Australian Employment and Training Solutions, 2014
61.3.9205.2126
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