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Islington Council fined for huge data breach...costing taxpayer £56k

PUBLISHED: 14:20 17 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:34 17 August 2017

Islington Council must pay £56,000 for the October 2015 data breach. Picture: Matt Brown/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Islington Council must pay £56,000 for the October 2015 data breach. Picture: Matt Brown/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Archant

The taxpayer must cough up £56,000 after Islington Council was fined for a “data disaster” in which 89,000 people’s personal details were freely available on its parking appeals website.

"Yet again the Islington taxpayer has to cough up due to the incompetence of Labour in the town hall. There has been a string of leaks, which Labour has failed to take responsibility – and nobody’s heads have rolled"

Terry Stacy

As exclusively revealed by the Gazette in October 2015, the information included medical data to justify appeals and even one person’s prison record.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) discovered there had been unauthorised access to 119 documents, affecting 71 people.

The information was made available by a website design fault, in which folders could be accessed by manipulating the URL address. The problem only came to light when a member of the public informed the council.

The town hall promptly referred itself to the ICO – which today said it had fined the authority £70,000. The fine was reduced to £56,000 due to Islington’s “prompt payment”.

Enforcement manager Sally Anne Poole said: “People have a right to expect their personal information is looked after. Islington Council broke the law when it failed to do that.

“Local authorities handle lots of personal information, much of which is sensitive. It’s therefore vital that all council staff take data protection seriously.”

Former council leader Terry Stacy, pictured last year with Lady Gaga, said the taxpayer has been forced to Former council leader Terry Stacy, pictured last year with Lady Gaga, said the taxpayer has been forced to "cough up due to the council's incompetence". Picture: Terry Stacy

Islington has a history of data leaks. In 2012, it handed details of 51 Andover Estate tenants to the same gang members who they had been ­reported for terrorising their neighbourhood. Six families had to be rehoused at a £50,000 taxpayer cost.

Just three months later, the council published details – such as sexuality, religion and mental health history – of around 2,400 people on the What Do They Know? website in response to a Freedom of Information request.

And this year, it even leaked financial data of 559 ex-employees to Terry Stacy – who led the council between 2008 and 2010.

Lib Dem Mr Stacy told the Gazette of today’s fine: “Yet again the Islington taxpayer has to cough up due to the incompetence of Labour in the town hall.

“There has been a string of leaks, which Labour has failed to take responsibility – and nobody’s heads have rolled.”

A council spokewoman said: “We remain very sorry about the previous Ticketviewer problem and agree with the ICO that we failed to meet the required data protection standards back in 2015.

“As soon as we were aware of the problem we took every possible action to prevent a recurrence and instructed auditors to carry out a thorough review so we could learn from our mistake.”

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