As a result of hackers allegedly targeting Tuesday evening’s online Census, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has announced that it is launching an investigation into the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for potential breaches of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

This year’s Census, which was for the first time held online on an opt out basis, left many Australians frustrated when the website crashed. It was initially thought that servers could not manage the traffic of visitors to the website, however it has emerged that the crash may have been a hacking attempt.

Due to the highly personal and sensitive nature of the data being collected, Australians have voiced concern about the security of their personal information and the risk of this information falling into the wrong hands.

The OAIC has indicated that its investigation will focus on the protections put in place for the Census and how the hacking incident was able to occur.

In an age of online services, the OAIC investigation into such a widespread breach of privacy has again put this area of law, and how we deal with protecting our privacy in an increasingly transparent society, firmly in the spotlight.

If a breach of privacy can happen on a national scale and to an organisation as large as the ABS, then business owners should turn their mind to mitigating the risks of hacking involved with their private information and the information that they hold in relation to clients and customers.  

If you require advice regarding privacy legislation, please contact:

Nicole Stornebrink
Associate
T 03 5225 5209
E nstornebrink@harwoodandrews.com.au

Beth Malouf
Lawyer
T 03 5225 5264
E bmalouf@harwoodandrews.com.au