Government contractor accessed private data over 'grudge'
A GOVERNMENT contractor has faced court after using her access to job seeker records to illegally access the Commonwealth data of four people.
Ipswich Magistrates Court heard a personal grievance may have been the motive for the privacy breach.
Dimity Williams was working with a staffing solutions company contracted by the Department of Jobs and Small Business and had access to an IT system known as ESS when she offended.
Her role allowed her to access job seeker records of clients, however, the court heard Williams accessed the personal records of her partner's former girlfriend 68 times for no legitimate work reason in three years between January 2016 and February 2019.
Dimity Williams, 48, pleaded guilty to four Commonwealth charges that she caused unauthorised access to restricted data contrary to the Criminal Code with respect to the personal records of four people.
Prosecutor Michael Potts said the Commonwealth sought a suspended jail term.
Mr Potts said Williams illegally accessed another person's records 16 times.
The records of a third person, who the court heard Williams knew, were accessed 74 times with no legitimate reason.
Centrelink was contacted by letter about a fourth person and provided with a false allegation against that man, the court was told.
Williams was later found to have illegally accessed the man's ESS information 39 times in 11 months from January, 2019.
Investigations into Williams began when a privacy complaint was made against her to Centrelink.
The department discovered she had accessed the records of the four people on a total of 197 occasions - all unauthorised and not related to her employment.
In February 2019 her access to the ESS system was suspended and she resigned.
Defence barrister Peter Woods said Williams grew up in Balmain, Sydney, and had excellent work history and was highly regarded.
He said the offences involved people she knew through extended family, including her partner's ex-lover.
Mr Woods said there had been acrimony and abuse, even death threats, although this was not given as an excuse.
"She knew their addresses, she knew they were living in relationships that disqualified their Centrelink," he said.
"Yes, she did use information to contact Centrelink. There were complaints by others to Centrelink.
"She did something illegal, contrary to the interests of her employer.
"It is different to a lot of other cases where offenders used material for personal gain, but this is not the case here."
"She has felt a deep sense of shame and remorse. She suffers stress and anxiety."
Magistrate Elizabeth Hall said she could not agree to Mr Woods' written submission that Williams receive an absolute discharge.
Ms Hall said people in Williams's position should know not to bring personal issues to their workplace.
Williams received a 12-month jail term, immediately suspended, along with a $2000 good behaviour bond not to reoffend.