The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has launched Operation Impala to examine the misuse of personal and sensitive information by public sector agencies. A public hearing will be held in November 2019 and use case studies to identify opportunities for reform.
CCC Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC said the misuse of private information held by public sector entities is a matter of significant public interest and a strategic area of focus for the CCC.
“Misuse of information has been a longstanding issue within the public sector. Members of the public would rightly expect that any personal information held by public sector agencies would be closely protected and not accessed inappropriately,” Mr MacSporran said.
“The issues to be examined are serious and potentially involve serious contraventions of individual rights to privacy and can be a criminal offence in some circumstances. The public sector holds a large amount of private, confidential and sensitive information. This can include information of a deeply personal nature, the revelation of which may have a substantial detrimental effect on an individual’s privacy, reputation or safety."
In recent years, the CCC has worked with the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to address this issue and it has led to a decline in the number of complaints about the QPS. However, there has been an increase in complaints containing allegations about the misuse of confidential information relating to other public sector agencies.
“While some progress has been made, there is more work to be done to prevent, detect and deal with this type of corrupt conduct,” Mr MacSporran said.
The CCC public hearing will examine:
- Factors which facilitate misuse of information within the Queensland public sector, by examination of the technical, people, and systems components of information management within the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Corrective Services, Department of Education, Department of Health (including selected Hospital and Health Services) and the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
- Features of the legislative, policy and operational environment within each agency that may enable corrupt conduct to occur or are vulnerable to corrupt conduct.
- Reforms to better prevent, detect and deal with corrupt conduct relating to misuse of information within the identified agencies, and lessons that can be extrapolated to the broader Queensland public sector.
CCC Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC will preside at the public hearing. The CCC intends to table a public report in Parliament at the conclusion of Operation Impala. The hearing will be live-streamed.
The CCC will be calling for public submissions prior to the commencement of the public hearing.
Operation Impala will not focus on commercially sensitive information or data breaches resulting from external computer hacking. Whilst access and release of this type of confidential information is serious and could amount to corrupt conduct, motivations of public servants to engage in this conduct is likely to be very different from the motivations to access personal or sensitive information.
Further information will be provided on the CCC’s website in the lead up to the hearing.
The CCC is an independent agency combating major crime and reducing corruption for the benefit of the Queensland community.