Use of information obtained through private social media groups.

The request was refused by Services Australia.

Dear Department of Human Services,

I seek access to the following documents in relation to the Department obtaining information about customers from social media websites:

1/ All policy documents related to this practice.

2/ All instruction or procedure documents related to this practice.

3/ All instructions from senior employees to subordinate staff related to this practice.

4/ Information on how the data obtained is stored and how it is used.

5/ Any guidelines to staff instructing them to use undercover or alias identities to join Social Media groups not open to the general public in order to gain access to information about the Department's customers.

6/ Any guidelines to staff including the Department's Legal Services to legal firms and solicitors acting on behalf of the Department to obtain information from Social Media groups that are closed to the General Public.

7/ Any guidelines to Departmental staff concerning the disclosure to customers about the collection of information from private Social Media Groups about them.

I have recently become aware of the practice of the Department in obtaining information from PRIVATE SOCIAL MEDIA GROUPS about the Department's Customers for use in litigation. This would of course appear to be at odds with Privacy Legislation and hence attracts a particularly high level of public interest. We have evidence that this has occurred so there is no point in denying the practice exists on this occasion (note previous refused request along the same lines).

Yours faithfully,

Keith Owen

FOI.LEGAL.TEAM, Services Australia

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Owen

 

Please see attached correspondence in relation to the request you made to
Services Australia under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information Team

Employment Law and Freedom of Information Branch | Legal Services Division

Services Australia

Email: [1][email address]

 

This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal
professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or
confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are
prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have
received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately
and permanently delete this email.

 

 

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Dear FOI.LEGAL.TEAM,

I understand how frustrating it is to be accountable. We have solid proof that the practice occurs, so I wish to now request an external review of your decision once you formally refuse it.

Yours sincerely,

Keith Owen

FOI.LEGAL.TEAM, Services Australia

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review of Freedom of Information request Use of information obtained through private social media groups..txt

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Dear Mr Owen

 

Thank you for your email dated 16 September 2020 (see attached).

 

We have interpreted your email to indicate that you do not wish to revise
the terms of the request you made to Services Australia on 30 August 2020
under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

 

Please advise if this is an incorrect interpretation of your email or if
you do wish to revise the terms of your request. If we do not hear from
you by COB 21 September 2020, we will proceed on our understanding that
you do not wish to revise the scope of your request.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information Team

Employment Law and Freedom of Information Branch | Legal Services Division

Services Australia

Email: [1][email address]

 

This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal
professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or
confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are
prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have
received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately
and permanently delete this email.

 

 

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1. mailto:[email address]

FOI.LEGAL.TEAM, Services Australia

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Owen

 

Please see attached the decision in response to the request you made to
Services Australia under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

 

Sincerely

 

Freedom of Information Team

Employment Law and Freedom of Information Branch | Legal Services Division

Services Australia

Email: [1][email address]

 

This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal
professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or
confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are
prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have
received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately
and permanently delete this email.

 

 

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1. mailto:[email address]

Dear FOI.LEGAL.TEAM,

I thank you for your response to my simple request to access information.

Please be advised that I have requested an external review, and will be lodging a formal complaint concerning the unlawful actions of the Department in obtaining legally privileged information using unlawful means. We were not surprised at the refusal, and will also now seek clarification via the Minister's Office concerning the actions of the Department.

Yours sincerely,

Keith Owen