DIA Deletes Records of Filtering Trial

While re-reading the most recent response from the Department of Internal Affairs (see page 3), I was struck by the following:

The Department is moving to implement the fully operational system and will shortly commence rebuilding the list. As the filtering list is rebuilt, new officer’s reports will be generated and, in preparation for this process, the reports related to the trial list have been deleted. The Department therefore cannot provide the requested information as it does not exist. [emphasis added]

I believe that this is a serious concern.

The Department of Internal Affairs has been running an Internet filtering scheme that has been actively used to filter people’s Internet connections without their knowledge. They have apparently deleted the reports that they used to justify adding websites to the list. This means that they have deliberately removed the ability for anyone to audit what they have been doing.

As a government department, the DIA has a responsibility under the Public Records Act 2005 to ‘create and maintain full and accurate records in accordance with normal, prudent business activity‘. They’re not allowed to just delete them without getting permission from the Chief Archivist.

It’s this sort of behaviour that makes it so important that any filtering scheme be conducted in an open and accountable manner.

3 Responses to “DIA Deletes Records of Filtering Trial”

  1. 1Mark Harris on Aug 3, 2009 at 11:03 pm:

    I agree completely. That should go straight to the Ombudsman, with a copy to the Chief Archivist. Just because it was a trial doesn’t remove the responsibility to keep records of it.

  2. 2alphamatrix on Aug 4, 2009 at 4:32 pm:

    They definitely shoudn’t have deliberately done that – it’s against the Public Records Act!
    While I can understand that some files do get lost from time to time, deleting public records in preparation for the new list simply makes no sense.

  3. 3thomas on Aug 4, 2009 at 4:35 pm:

    I have spoken to someone from the Ombudsmen’s office about it and they asked for a copy of the DIA’s letter. I’ve given it to them.