SA data harvesting questions to be probed

Questions over possible data harvesting from people who visited South Australian government websites have been referred to an investigative body.

© David Mariuz/AAP PHOTOS Peter Malinauskas is concerned about possible data harvesting from visitors to SA government sites.

Ombudsman Wayne Lines has confirmed he’s referred the matter to Office for Public Integrity for assessment.

However, after giving evidence to a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, he issued a public statement clarifying that in making such a referral he had not found there to be corruption, maladministration or misconduct.

“No conclusions have been made in that regard, only that there are concerns that needed to be referred to OPI for assessment,” Mr Lines said in his statement.

The ombudsman’s actions came after suggestions earlier this year that the Liberal Party may have been collecting and tracking data from people who visited official government websites after clicking on links provided in government media releases.

At the time Premier Steven Marshall said there had never been any retention of data.

“No data is being collected or retained when clicking on the links referred to in media reports,” Mr Marshall said in a statement.

The premier said it was likely that when parts of media releases were copied and pasted into SA government websites, the original links were still being detected.

He said to ensure there was no confusion amongst journalists or members of the public, the government would use a different system for distributing media releases.

Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman told state parliament on Wednesday the government would wait on the assessment from the OPI.

But she noted that the ombudsman had made no conclusions following his own inquiries.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said the ombudsman’s revelations were “stunning”.

“Steven Marshall cannot simply brush this to one side. This is serious,” he said.

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