The Independent London Newspaper

New 'data disaster' as residents' details are leaked online less than a week after assurances were given over security

Councillor Paul Convery

Councillor Paul Convery last week gave assurances over data security at the Town Hall

Published: 25 July, 2012
by ANDREW JOHNSON

BUNGLING council officials are scrambling to contain another massive data leak after it emerged that the names and addresses of 2,400 tenants had been posted on a website.

The cock-up follows a highly damaging leak in April when the details of residents who had complained about anti-social behaviour on the Andover estate were handed over to the very same criminals.

The latest leak happened on June 26 when the housing department responded to a Freedom of Information request into the ethnicity and gender of people it had rehoused. It handed over a spreadsheet containing the information to the website Whatdotheyknow? which published it online. But the spreadsheet also contained the names, marital status and addresses of 2,400 residents.

The mistake happened because the sensitive information was not immediately visible – but it could be accessed from the website by people familiar with the spreadsheet software.

The data was online for two weeks before the Town Hall was notified of the error last Monday – July 16 – resulting in fears that the information could have fallen into the hands of identity thieves.

Last Thursday crime chief Councillor Paul Convery assured a Town Hall watchdog committee looking into April’s leak that new tightened-up procedures had been put in place to prevent such blunders in the future – even though one already had.

Lib Dem leader Terry Stacy has lambasted the council as “incompetent” and described the new leak as a “disaster”.

“This comes less than a week after we were reassured by the Labour leadership after supposedly thorough audits of data protection at the council that everything was okay and this couldn’t happen again,” he said.

“How wrong it seems they were. This is yet another data disaster, and this time more than 2,000 residents’ details are out in public because of incompetence from this Labour council.”

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Comments

It is really bad that the

It is really bad that the Councillor had no idea about the various security precautions that were taken ( in fact next to none) to prevent data theft at the administrative office. A proper department should have been made to have them analyse the adverse effects of such a hit.

Total and utter incompetence

I am an Islington resident and I've just read the full story about this on the My Society website, who run "What do they know": http://www.mysociety.org/2012/07/26/a-private-data-leak-by-islington-cou...

The most incredible aspect of this incident is that some fool in the council actually tried to "recall" the message and replace it with a new message (regardless of the fact that recalling messages sent outside your organisation will never work). It showed that the operator knew that there was a mistake but made no efforts to contact My Society or notify management such that the ICO could clear up the mess!

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