Tasmanian data leak reveals HIV status of ambulance patients

A major breach of Tasmanian people’s privacy has been described as “horrific” by the Health and Community Services Union. The ABC has revealed that details of every Tasmanian who called an ambulance since November 2020 have been made public online.

The data breach includes personal details such as names, gender, HIV status, and the address where the incident occurred. It has been suggested the Tasmanian government could be open to litigation.

“It’s unbelievable,” state secretary Tim Jacobson told the ABC.

“If I were a patient I’d be upset, I’d be concerned, and I would want to know immediately both what the Government has done about closing off this but also what the Government’s now doing or likely to do to address any real breaches of privacy for those patients.”

The web page which was created by a third party is 26,000 pages long and details call outs from the state’s ambulance and fire services.

Since the site was brought to the attention of the Tasmanian government it has been taken down and the Australian Cyber Security Centre has been authorised to remove it should it reappear.

The state’s Health Minister Sarah Courtney has said the matter has been referred to the Tasmanian Police to investigate how details that appeared to be intercepted from the Ambulance and Fire Emergency Services paging system was made public.

“After a discussion with the secretary of the Department of Health, Kathrine Morgan-Wicks, the matter of how this data interception from the Fire and Ambulance paging system has occurred has been referred to Tasmania Police.” Courtney said.

“Appropriate steps have been taken by Ambulance Tasmania to limit the transmission of personal information via the paging system, balanced against the need to ensure patient and staff safety in responding to incidents is paramount.”

“I understand this may be distressing for those affected and I can assure Tasmanians that the Government is taking this matter incredibly seriously and I will take all necessary steps to protect the privacy of our patients.”

Courtney said Tasmanians should not resist calling 000 in an emergency, and stressed that the site revealing personal details had now been taken down.

Read the full report from Emily Baker at the ABC.

OIP Staff

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