Council hit with £70,000 fine for releasing tenants' personal data
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing, Legal
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Islington Council has been hit with a £70,000 fine after mistakenly releasing the personal data of some of its social housing tenants.
In June 2012 the council responded to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that asked for the ethnicity and gender of people it had rehoused.
The released Excel spread sheets included personal information concealed behind the summary tables.
An investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found the council at fault and issued the fine.
The council has accepted that the information should not have been disclosed and has apologised to residents affected by the leak.
A council investigation into the breach concluded that there was a need for mandatory data awareness training for all staff, as well as specific training for those staff who handle sensitive data. The programme has been in place since November 2012 and is ongoing.
A council spokesman said: "We remain extremely sorry for the upset and worry this disclosure may have caused to some people. The council carried out a thorough investigation when this disclosure came to light, and we have since put in place more rigorous checks.
"The person who released the data did not have sufficient knowledge of spread sheets to recognise the error or to put it right. All of our employees who are tasked with responding to FOI requests have now had additional training with an emphasis on how to prepare information for public release.
"We recognise it is our responsibility to protect people's personal data, and we failed. We're very sorry for that."
The council intends to pay the fine promptly to take advantage of an offered 20% discount, reducing the penalty to £56,000.