In a written statement to Parliament, the Immigration Minister for the UK, Mark Harper has today revealed that the names, date of birth and details of the immigration case type of migrants had been mistakenly published online by his staff. The Home Office has blamed the error on the government’s transparency agenda, which requires all departments to publish information about its work in an easily accessible format. Mark Harper identified the error two weeks after it was posted online and the personal information was removed.
Migrants Personal Data Published on UK Home Office Website
It was revealed today that personal details of almost 1,598 migrants were available online in error between 15 October and 28 October 2013. The details were taken down by department officials when the mistake was identified.
In a written statement to Parliament, Mark Harper stated:
“The Home Office contributes to [the transparency] agenda by regularly releasing information about its work, spend and outcomes in a publicly accessible and open format. Unfortunately, between 15 and 28 October 2013, some personal data was available on the Home Office website as part of the spreadsheet alongside the regular data set in error.”
Keith Vaz “Appalled” at “Serious Breach of Personal Data”
Fewer than 30 visits were made to the relevant webpage and the Home Office believes the risk to those whose personal information was accessible for the period is ‘low’.
However, chair of the Home Affairs Committee Keith Vaz said he was “appalled at this serious breach of personal data’ and stated that “this breach yet again raises serious questions about the department’s ability to function adequately.”
Home Office to Conduct Internal Investigation of Breach
The Home Office will be conducting an internal investigation into the behaviour of the Home Office and has informed the Information Commissioner’s Office of the error.
Keith Vaz has recently reprimanded the Home Office for taking months to reply to the Home Affairs Committee’s correspondence and has stated that they will be seeking assurances from the Home Office that they are looking into their reporting systems.