Sensitive council data sent to hundreds via PERSONAL EMAIL
ICO fines Cheshire East £80k for data breach
Cheshire East council has been fined £80,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for failing to have adequate security measures in place when emailing personal information.
The ICO said the serious breach of the Data Protection Act occurred in May 2011, when a council employee was asked to contact the local voluntary sector co-ordinator to alert local voluntary workers to a police force's concerns about an individual who was working the area.
Instead of sending the email via the council's secure system, the employee sent it via her personal email account. The email contained the name and an alleged alias for the individual, as well as information about concerns the police had about him. The correspondence was then forwarded by the co-ordinator to 100 intended recipients.
The council employee said she sent the email from her personal account because the co-ordinator did not have an appropriate email address and that using the secure email system would have prevented the information from being further disseminated.
As the email did not have any clear markings or advice on how it was to be treated, the recipients interpreted the wording of the message to mean that they should also forward the email to other voluntary workers. As a result, it was forwarded on to 180 unintended recipients.
Following the breach, the council attempted to recall the email to prevent further disclosure. More than 57 per cent of the recipients said that they had deleted the information.
Stephen Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: "While we appreciate that it is vitally important for genuine concerns about individuals working in the voluntary sector to be circulated to relevant parties, a robust system must be put in place to ensure that information is appropriately managed and carefully disclosed.
"Cheshire East council also failed to provide this particular employee with adequate data protection training. The highly sensitive nature of the information and the need to restrict its circulation should have been made clear to all recipients."
He added: "I hope this case, along with the fact that we've handed out over £1m worth of penalties since our powers came into force, acts as a strong incentive for other councils to ensure that they have sufficient measures in place around protecting personal data."
This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.
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"we've handed out over £1m worth of penalties"
or we've taken nearly £1m from the taxpayers to various councils?
I really do not see the point with fines of this kind.
Who actually pays these types of fines? The tax-payer of course who also happens to be the victim of this cock-up. When they start fining the senior managers responsible 80k each *personally* then we might see some improvement. The same should also apply in the private sector. When a company screws up any fines involved should also include *personal* fines levied on the board of directors with it being totally illegal for the company to in any way compensate them - to make sure that in those cases the customers (the victims again) do not end up paying the transgressor's fines for them indirectly. It is a total nonsense that holding the "managerati" to account whether in the public or the private sector in practice ends up with the *victims* do the paying.
To quote from the first paragraph of the Microsoft page on the Outlook 'Recall' feature:
"The recipient of the mail you want to recall must also be using an Exchange server e-mail account. For example, you cannot recall a message sent to someone's personal Internet service provider (ISP) POP3 e-mail account."
Given the article says the email was sent via a personal account, it's pretty unlikely the Exchange recall was used, probably more a case of sending another email asking all the recipients to delete the previous one.
Still don't let that prevent you from posting a snarky comment, preferably using 'M$', which makes you look a really cool dude.