[LINK] Tax Office selling ABN details
Mon, 05 Jun 2000 09:25:06 +1000
Scanning this debate over the weekend, I seem to detect a certain amount of
inconsistency. A few months ago, in discussing the ASIC website, some people
expressed the fear that ASIC might be preparing to charge for its searches...
At that time, more than one Linker pointed out that the US provides more
information free about registered businesses -- particularly companies -- than
Without sticking my neck out in the privacy debate, I'd suggest that any person
conducting a business transaction with either a company or sole trader has a
right to information about that company or sole trader. What's offensive is (a)
having to pay a US-based publisher for information which should be available on
the public record; and (b) a lack of restriction on further use or onselling of
However, if I decide to hang a shingle saying "Richard Chirgwin Homewares" or
such like, then I do so at the cost of some level of personal privacy. Customers
and suppliers both have a right to know that 'Richard Chirgwin' exists, where I
live (as protection against debt default), and so on. But the right of ACCESS to
that information should be equal: if a customer or supplier needs it, their
access should not be restricted to them (a) knowing that D&B exists and (b)
having the money to pay for access.
In corporate transactions, the situation is even clearer (IMNSHO). It's already
clear that complex schemes of ownership are too easily exploited to hide who
owns a business, and in part to hide the fact that a particular business is a
scam. Part of the reason that the dishonest get away with this is that the cost
of hunting backwards through a dozen or so shareholder registers, at $20 a pop
and escalating depending on the nature of the document you want, is prohibitive.
And the outcome of _that_, Linkers, is that if you've plenty of money, you're in
a better position to avoid the dodgy companies than if you're a small or sole
investor. In other words, the ability to assess risk is inhibited by government
Subject: [LINK] Tax Office selling ABN details
Author: "stewart carter" <email@example.com>
Date: 2/06/00 5:42
IT news today (via an AAP report) carried confirmation, from a Senates
estimate hearing that the Tax Office is selling ABN information to private
companies, namely a Dun & Bradstreet/Commonwealth Bank joint venture at
But the ATO officials appear to have told a slightly different story to the
Senate Committee than I was given in following up Peter Reiths launch of
the D&B service last week.
As I reported in the Age and in my eCommerce Report this week, I have been
told the details being sold to D&B do not include the full postal address.
Here is the relevant excerpt:
Stephen Moore, assistant secretary of the Business Entry Point management
branch in Reith's Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small
Business, told the Age that Dun & Bradstreet is paying a fee for bulk
access to the ABN's.
He said that fee had not yet been finalised by that the Department is
negotiating with some nine or ten other information providers looking to
offer a similar service.
"The model is the commercial information providers who are contracted to
the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)" said Moore.
"Its important to recognise that we haven't given open access to Dun &
Bradstreet and the D&B service doesn't include all the information on the
Australian Business Register."
"It won't include the full address of a business, for example, and will
only provide the postcode."
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