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Tick 'confidential' if you like: it means simply nothing

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A parental internet controls consultation document released by the Department for Education yesterday is currently exposing the email addresses, unencrypted passwords and sensitive answers of members of the public who fill in the associated form.

Many Register readers have alerted us to the serious security flaw this morning, and some have already reported the possible breach of the Data Protection Act to the the Information Commissioner's Office.

We contacted the DfE to alert it to the privacy cockup. It was the first the bureaucrats had heard of the problem, apparently, despite users posting comments exposing the issue directly on the site.

Reg reader Daniel said:

"No URL manipulation was required; once I had completed the survey I simply clicked on the link to view my responses, and I was presented with another user's responses instead. I have reported this breach to the ICO."

Screenshot from Reg reader Daniel who is clearly not Leona...

"The government consultation website keeps crossing over the identities of logged-in users trying to fill it out, mixing up responses with those of other people and exposing personal details and 'strictly confidential' answers to all and sundry. It is a major violation of the data protection act," Reg reader Jason told us.

El Reg has sought comment from the ICO. More to follow, no doubt. ®

Updated to Add

Since this piece was published the DfE has been in touch with the following statement:

We are aware of a technical problem affecting our Parental Internet Controls consultation website and have taken the site down while we investigate further. We will take all the necessary steps to correct the problem.

The ICO has now told The Register:

We have recently been made aware of a possible data breach which may involve the Department for Education's website.

We will be making enquiries into the circumstances of the alleged breach of the Data Protection Act before deciding what action, if any, needs to be taken.

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