April 20 2014 Latest news:
Friday, December 13, 2013
The town hall has been forced to cough up more than £40,000 and say sorry for two gigantic data leaks that published details of women fleeing domestic violence online and delivered the addresses of people suffering from antisocial behaviour to the thugs they were complaining about.
Islington Council has agreed to pay out between £1,000 and £5,000 to each of the 14 residents who brought a group action against them, as well as sending them all a written apology.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has already hit the council with a £70,000 fine for one of the breaches and with around 2,500 people affected by the blunders, this decision could open the floodgates for more actions against the council – although victims will now have to prove they suffered financially to make a claim.
The first monumental gaffe came in April last year when officers passed details of 51 people, many of whom had complained about antisocial behaviour (ASB) on the council’s flagship ASB hotline, to 10 hoodlums who had been causing trouble on the Andover estate, off Seven Sisters Road, Holloway – at least six of the families involved had to be rehoused.
Then just three months later they managed to publish the sensitive details – including sexual preference, ethnicity, religion, mental health problems – of around 2,400 on the website What Do They Know? in response to a freedom of information request (FOI).
Some of the residents bringing the group action suffered from both breaches.
Anna Thwaites, from Hodge Jones and Allen, who represented the residents, said: “This simply should not have happen. Two Data Protection Act breaches in as many months are simply not acceptable. The London Borough of Islington has caused a great deal of distress to my clients, which could have easily been avoided.
“It is important that the London Borough of Islington learns from their mistakes and changes are made to stop this happening again.”
Unbelievably, at the start of this year the town hall managed a third leak – sending out the private email addresses of 140 people.”
The personal details of almost 150 residents were leaked in Islington Council’s third data breach in less than a year.
Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of Islington’s opposition Lib Dems, said: “This highlights the incompetence of this administration.
“No one has taken responsibility for this – Cllrs Convery and Sidnell have washed their hands of it and there has been no leadership.
“And the council tax payers of Islington have been lumbered with the bill – as we predicted.
“We haven’t even seen the damage from the first one yet – we outed the outcome of the ICO report with bated breath.”
As part of the arrangement, the council must explain to the residents breaches occurred and an update on lessons learnt and changes made.
The town hall agreed to the deal after legal experts told them it was both appropriate and in the council’s interests.
An Islington Council spokesman said: “We are very sorry about these incidents, and the distress caused.
“We apologised as soon as these incidents came to light, and we sincerely apologise again.
“We have carried out thorough investigations into how these incidents happened, and have introduced new checks and training for staff.
“This includes compulsory training for all staff on how residents’ data must be handled, and new specialist training for staff who handle Freedom of Information requests.”