Latest Public Sector News

12.02.14

£185,000 fine for government information breach

A government department has been fined £185,000 for a “very serious data breach” involving personal details of a terror incident.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined the Department of Justice Northern Ireland for selling a filing cabinet containing the sensitive information at a public auction.

The information concerned victims of a terrorist incident, including injuries suffered, family details and the amount of compensation offered.

When the Compensation Agency Northern Ireland, part of the DoJ NI, moved offices in February 2012, a locked cabinet containing the information was earmarked for auction along with other unwanted office furniture. It was sold to a member of the public in May 2012.

The buyer forced the lock and found the details, which he then reported to the police.

ICO assistant commissioner for Northern Ireland, Ken Macdonald, said: “This is clearly a very serious case. While failing to check the contents of a filing cabinet before selling it may seem careless, the nature of the information typically held by this organisation made the error all the more concerning.

“The distress that could have been caused to victims and their families had this fallen into the wrong hands is self-evident.”

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