The Guardian Australia website says the personal details of a third of all asylum seekers held in Australia have been inadvertently released by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on its website.
The Guardian says the release of the details of almost 10,000 adults and children is one of the most serious privacy breaches in Australia's history.
The database contains the full names, nationalities, location, arrival date and boat arrival information.
A refugee lawyer, David Manne, has told local media that the breach can potentially see thousands of asylum seekers in Australia who were previously ineligible for refugee status have their claims validated.
He says the law is crystal clear that identification of a person seeking protection can result in them being granted protection on that basis itself.
The Australian government has launched an investigation