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AU: Shared IT Risks Terrorism Cases: Judge
Source: zdnet.com.au
Source Date: Friday, October 08, 2010
Focus: Citizen Engagement, Internet Governance
Country: Australia
Created: Oct 12, 2010

Victorian Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren believes that moving the court's IT systems into a shared services environment risks compromising terrorism, organised crime and corruption cases.

The Victorian Department of Justice, which looks after the IT systems for the Supreme Court, was one of four government agencies to be moved into the Victorian Government's CenITex whole-of-government IT shared services environment in the last financial year. In the court's annual report (PDF) released earlier this week, Warren warned against a proposal from the department to to move the Supreme Court's IT system to the CenITex environment, saying it had the potential to compromise high profile cases.

"We have been at pains to explain to the Departments of Justice and Treasury & Finance the unsuitability and, indeed, serious difficulties the CenITex system poses for the Supreme Court," she said.

"Essentially, because of the cases we determine, the court handles sensitive and confidential personal, security and commercial information provided by parties such as the State and Federal Police with organised crime and terrorism cases, the Office of Police Integrity with police corruption cases, and commercial law firms acting for national and multi-national corporations involving key business and market cases," she added.

Warren said that due to the highly confidential information on terrorism and corruption cases handled by judges and court staff, it was important that only authorised court staff had access to those documents.

"We would not expect such documents to be at risk of unauthorised access, that is, by anyone other than judges and Supreme Court staff," she said. "For example, an external 'helpdesk' operated by non-court staff with the capacity to view and control judges' desktops which include confidential documents and connections to draft judgements is not what we would regard as a high quality, independent IT system.

"The court is discussing with government the prospect of special independent arrangements to protect the integrity of our IT system."

Warren noted that the present IT system was controlled by the Department of Justice, which was also unacceptable because the department was the primary litigator in the Supreme Court. Warren said that moving the IT system to an external agency was undesirable because of the risks brought about through the lack of control or a relationship with the agency.

"We are confident that the government will appreciate the integrity of our IT system and prevent anyone outside the court having the capacity to view our documents, including draft judgements," she said.
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