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Australia: OAIC launches investigation into HWL Ebsworth Lawyers over data breach

On February 21, 2024, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) announced that it had launched an investigation into the personal information handling practices of HWL Ebsworth Lawyers (HWLE). In particular, the OAIC highlighted that the investigation follows preliminary inquiries into a data breach notified to the OAIC on May 8, 2023. 

The OAIC explained that its investigation would focus on HWLE's acts or practices in relation to the security and protection of the personal information it held and its notification of the data breach to affected individuals.

Further, the OAIC noted that if its investigation determines that an interference with the privacy of one or more individuals has occurred it may: 

  • declare that HWLE takes specified steps to ensure that the relevant act or practice is not repeated or continued;
  • order HWLE to redress any loss or damage suffered because of the act or practice; or
  • seek civil penalties against HWLE from the Federal Court of Australia, if the investigation finds serious or repeated interferences with the privacy of individuals.

You can read the press release here.