Data sensitivity checks

The ALA runs a check for sensitivity as part of data upload (either manual or through a data mobilisation process). Depending on the nature of the sensitivity, records are:

  • withheld
  • have their geolocation generalised to a non-precise location
  • annotated with additional information, for example to identify quarantine intercepts .


Each state and territory supplies the ALA with a list of sensitive species in their jurisdiction and the rules for processing records of those species. View the ALA's Sensitive Species Lists.


When a species record from a sensitive species list is uploaded via Record a Sighting, the location of the record is modified according to the relevant rules. The location may be completely withheld or the accuracy of location coordinates may be adjusted. 


The ALA’s data integration tool, Sandbox (http://sandbox.ala.org.au/datacheck/), also runs sensitive data processing software.


To discuss the inclusion or removal of species on a sensitive species list, please contact the list owner specified on the sensitive species lists.


Users are informed when data has been modified or withheld.


John Tann and Paul Flemons, working at the Australian Museum, undertook a study for the ALA in 2009 to determine the difficulties associated with working with sensitive data and how they act as a barrier to data sharing. The study report was made available for public comment and is available at Our secrets are not your secrets: Sensitive data report. The creation of a Sensitive Data Service (SDS) was a key recommendation of the study. The ALA has developed Sensitive Data Service infrastructure to implement this advice.


  • The SDS has not been designed to handle privacy related sensitivity concerns.
  • The SDS enables data in sensitive records to be annotated, withheld or generalised according to a publicly available set of rules.
  • Users are informed whenever data has been modified or withheld.
  • View ALA's Sensitive Species Lists for more information about the external agencies and the species lists and rules they have provided to address conservation related sensitivities.
  • Work on biosecurity related sensitivity rules is ongoing.
  • Conservation and biosecurity data sensitivity can also be checked online at sds.ala.org.au. Simply enter a single species name or upload a spreadsheet of names. Sensitivity checking via a web service is also planned.