Search

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

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 News Stories

Yesterday, 09:00
Zoe Ranson

A writer has spoken of her delight in being shortlisted for a prestigious new award which recognises the wide scope of unpublished novellas.

Thu, 18:30
Clerkenwell has been subject to a dispersal order by Islington Police for 48 hours since Wednesday

Borough Police have placed Clerkenwell on a 48 hour lockdown using a Dispersal Order.

Thu, 12:21
Cllr James Murray, Islington Council's executive member for housing

Council warn that new build programme could suffer from goverment extension of the Right to Buy scheme

Thu, 12:05
Cllr Caroline Russell with Vicky Wilson in her meadow

Weed killer used by council ‘may be linked to cancer’

Most read news

Competitions

Get your hands on some fresh trainers!

Need some new shoes to head to work or some new heels for a night on the cobbles? London24 has teamed up with online retailer Sole Trader to offer £100 worth of shoes to one lucky reader.

Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder