1406.0.55.003 - Responsible Use of ABS Microdata, User Guide  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/07/2016   
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CONSEQUENCES OF FAILING TO COMPLY WITH A MICRODATA UNDERTAKING

Responsible Officers sign an Undertaking on behalf of the users within their organisation in order to access microdata. Users may also be required to sign an Individual Undertaking. Microdata users must comply with the requirements for accessing microdata as outlined in the Responsible Officer Undertaking and Individual Undertaking for microdata access.

Where a person is suspected to have breached a microdata undertaking, pending investigation of the breach, the ABS may:

  • immediately suspend their access to all microdata
  • disable their Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) or DataLab access
  • require that they surrender all microdata in their possession to their organisation's Contact Officer or to the ABS, and
  • inform the organisation's Contact and Responsible Officers that an investigation is underway.

Following the investigation and depending on the nature of the breach, the ABS may require the development and implementation of strategies to:
  • restrict or overcome the consequences of the breach
  • ensure no repetition of the breach.

Depending on the success of these strategies and the severity of the breach, the ABS may:
  • reactivate the suspended access, or
  • extend suspension temporarily or permanently, or
  • suspend or terminate access for the organisation as a whole.

The ABS may also invoke Subsection 19 (3) of the Census and Statistics Act 1905 which provides that a person who fails to comply with an undertaking given by that person in respect of microdata is guilty of an indictable offence, punishable on conviction by a fine of 120 penalty units ($25,200) or imprisonment for two years, or both.

While ABS must treat breaches of the microdata undertakings very seriously we would much rather help users and their organisations avoid the possibility of a breach. If at any time, you are unsure about your or your organisation's compliance with a microdata undertaking, please contact microdata.access@abs.gov.au or call 02 6252 7714.