Search

Charity disputes Islington Council account of latest data leak and reveals domestic violence details included

PUBLISHED: 13:34 03 August 2012

Details of domestic violence victims were also included in the second data blunder

Details of domestic violence victims were also included in the second data blunder

Archant

Islington Council’s account of its latest large-scale data blunder has been disputed by the website which exposed the error.

In its official statement, the town hall insisted the details of nearly 2,400 residents uploaded to the web page WhatDoTheyKnow (WDTK) were only contained in “hidden” parts of the document, which required “a detailed knowledge of spreadsheets” to access.

However, a spokesman for democracy and transparency charity mySociety, told the Gazette: “We disagree with the council’s description of events on this point. The personal data of 309 individuals had not been hidden and was immediately visible to anyone who opened it. The other two workbooks contained personal data of the rest of the people who were affected, but this data was on hidden sheets and would not have been immediately visible.”

The council this week refused to respond to the claims.

The data was released in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request through the WDTK website, where it was published online on June 26. It remained available for 19 days.

MySociety disclosed other details left out of the council’s account, including:

n The council released whether individuals were victims of domestic violence, as well as their name, address, gender, race, relationship status, religion and sexuality.

n A council officer attempted unsuccessfully to retrieve the original e-mail, suggesting someone may have noticed the mistake.

n A second e-mail was sent, which still included all the confidential information – albeit now all in “hidden” worksheets.

n This is believed to be the first time mySociety – which has handled more than 120,000 FoI requests – has referred a case to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

n It was sheer luck that the mistake was spotted by a volunteer at the website.

Tom Steinberg, of mySociety, wrote on the charity’s website: “Shortly after sending out these files, someone within the council tried to delete the first e-mail using Microsoft Outlook’s ‘recall’ feature.

“A short while later, the council sent a ‘replacement’ FoI response that still contained a large amount of personal information, this time in the form of hidden Excel tabs... uncovering such tabs takes seconds, and only basic computer skills.

“At no point on or after June 26 did we receive any notification from Islington (or anyone else) that problematic information had been released not once, but twice.

“It was only by sheer good fortune that our volunteer happened to stumble across these documents some weeks later.”

Letter shock

A letter sent out by Islington Council owning up to its latest shocking data blunder contained another glaring mistake – leaving residents wondering if the council is doing anything at all about the leak.

The note, posted to nearly 2,400 residents whose details – including their sexuality – were published online, simply contained a blank space under the heading “What is the council doing about this?”

After the gap, it moved onto another section, headed “What should I do?”

0 comments

Latest Islington News Stories

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our three-minute Met Office video forecast.

Yesterday, 16:01

If anything symbolises how much of an Islington institution soon-to-close pie and mash shop Manze’s is, it’s the story of Dennis Elmore’s visit.

Yesterday, 14:11

Posting a letter in 1927 was the equivalent of using Whatsapp today. It was instant messaging, early 20th century style.

Yesterday, 11:13

A prison watchdog has declared Pentonville “unsafe and inhumane” in the wake of two jailbreaks, an unofficial strike and six deaths, including the killing of an inmate.

Yesterday, 07:00

A rare pedigree cat is missing, presumed stolen – weeks after his owners grudgingly dismantled the animal’s secure £2,500 “catio” as it didn’t have planning permission.

Thu, 18:59

Chapel Market traders were today fearful for the future of the Islington institution following the announced closure of its century-old pie and mash shop Manze’s.

Thu, 18:06

Transport police want to speak to this man over a sexual assault at Finsbury Park station during the morning rush hour.

Thu, 17:43

Arsenal ranks as one of the Premier League’s worst clubs for season ticket affordability, according to research.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now