Notice of Independent Review: Report released

20 August 2020


Professor John McMillan AO has concluded his independent review of action taken by Federal Court following potential non-compliance with section 91X of the Migration Act 1958 relating to the Commonwealth Courts Portal and Federal Law Search.

The final report (pdf, 441 kb) has three main recommendations:

Recommendation 1

The Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court each review their Data Breach Response Plan to include a separate section on notifying a data breach to affected individuals, stakeholder organisations and the public. Matters to be noted include that:

  • a public announcement of a data breach should be timely, direct and explicit
  • consideration should be given to voluntarily notifying a data breach to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, notwithstanding that it is not an eligible data breach under the Data Breach Notification scheme in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
  • consideration should be given to consulting external bodies as to the way that persons potentially affected by a data breach should be notified.

The Privacy Policy of each Court should cross-refer to the Data Breach Response Plan and notification principles.

The Courts’ response:

The Privacy Policies and the Data Breach Response Plans for the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court have been reviewed and amended, fully adopting Recommendation 1. 

Recommendation 2

The Federal Court continue to be as transparent as possible in considering the options for restoring public access to migration and appeal matters through Federal Law Search.

The Courts’ response:

The Courts remain committed to returning full functionality to Federal Law Search. We are actively working to provide access to all matters as soon as possible. Currently public search functionality has been restored to all matters except those involving pseudonyms.     

Recommendation 3

The Federal Court consider implementing a practice of recording the Internet Protocol addresses from which the Federal Law Search function is used to access documents relating to migration and appeal proceedings in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court. The limited purpose for recording that information would be to better enable the Court to assess the potential impact of any data breach relating to that information that occurs contrary to section 91X of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).

The Courts’ response:

The Courts’ Information Technology (IT) team is working with our IT service partner to determine the feasibility of system changes aimed at implementing a practice of recording the internet protocol addresses from which searches of Federal Law Search originate. We hope to be in a position to determine feasibility in the near future.