AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Mixed messages from ICS opens up legal tinderbox

<p>As the direct cost of cargoes delayed by Integrated Cargo System (ICS)-related problems at Customs mounts up, there are warnings of hidden costs caused by the breakdown of commercial confidentiality in the system. </p> <p>Many Customs users are now receiving messages on other parties’ clearances in error as the ICS processing malfunctions, raising the possibility of commercially sensitive information reaching competitors.</p> <p>Peter McNamara, managing director of air forwarder AMI and an immediate past president of the Australian Federation of International Forwarders, said yesterday (Thursday, October 20): "The integrity of the system has been compromised."</p> <p>He noted that Customs has been considering a partial switch of sea cargo back to legacy systems, but said the entire system should be switched off. </p> <p>"If system integrity is compromised in one place, it is compromised everywhere," he said. </p> <p>The result could be "a rash of legal actions", he said, with many forwarders working in specialised cargo niches risking the loss of price sensitive information to their client’s competitors, and loss of their client. </p> <p>Some large importers also handle their own customs broking, with further risks of accident exposure to information. </p> <p>Trade lawyer Andrew Hudson, of Hunt &#38 Hunt, said: "The failure by Customs to provide privacy and confidentiality is a serious breach by a Federal Government agency and could potentially open them up to significant action by a number of parties." </p> <p>Customs chief information officer Murray Harrison earlier this week said that the system was unforgiving of data quality. </p> <p>"I cannot stress this enough," he said. "If one piece of reporting fails then the rest does. </p> <p>"If the system does not give the answer that is expected, then it is usually for this reason." he said.</p> <p>However, Mr Mcnamara noted that because of the cascade reporting involved, "human intervention at every level has to be letter perfect &#8211 and nobody is up to that".</p> <br />