Services Australia testifies Cellebrite tech only used for fraud and identity theft cases

A demonstration of Cellebrite technology being used.

Image: Getty Images

In testimony to Australia’s Senate Estimates, Services Australia said its use of Cellebrite software has only been for looking into fraud and identity theft matters.

Cellebrite, an Israeli digital intelligence company, is best known for its controversial phone-cracking technology, which it previously claimed could download most data from almost any device on behalf of government agencies. 

“We’re very aware that we have a role of assurance over AU$200 billion of social support in Medicare and Centrelink programs and so the integrity of those outlays is important,” Services Australia acting-deputy CEO of payments and integrity Chris Birrer said.

“We do have a system of compliance in terms of ensuring that people are complying with their mutual obligations under the income support payment and that we take very seriously making sure people are paid the right amount.”

Facing questioning around how Services Australia uses Cellebrite’s technology, Birrer said it is only used in fraud and identity theft cases, which has included cases where people have falsely claimed the government disaster relief payments, uploaded images that do not relate to Australia to commit fraud, and stolen the identities of actual customers to hijack payments.

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