A link to an underlying data source used in an immigration department report is being fingered as the cause for unauthorised access to private information on asylum detainees.
The data source gave anyone in the report's possession access to the full names, nationalities, locations, arrival dates, and boat arrival information of nearly 10,000 asylum seekers, including children, detained in a mainland or Christmas Island detention facility.
In a statement released yesterday afternoon, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison called the breach "serious" and "unacceptable", and said the department had called on KPMG to prepare an interim report into how the incident occurred.
"As part of that investigation, the department has tasked KPMG to review all data publications and to ensure that proper mechanisms will be in place to make sure it doesn't happen again."
KPMG's report is due next week, but is not the only report being written, with the Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim also looking into the matter.
"The OAIC will be working with the Department to make sure they are fully aware of their privacy obligations and to ensure that incidents of this nature will not be repeated," Pilgrim said yesterday.
Morrison welcomed Pilgrim's investigation, and said the department ensured that the documents concerned are now inaccessible and do not appear in search engine results.
"It appears the personal information underlying the report cannot be accessed through search engines," he said.
"I have asked the department secretary to keep me informed of the actions that have been initiated, including any disciplinary measures that may be taken, as appropriate."
The minister called upon The Guardian, which first reported the story, to provide assurance that it had not passed the documents on to any other party, and to "return all copies of the information to the department".
In response, the media outlet pointed out that Morrison had publicly stated information about the files in interviews, and had even mentioned the file's name on television.