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News of the New Year’s Honours List data leak incident rounded off what has been yet another year of leaks, breaches and hacks.
You can take it from us – as data breach experts – that news of this breach was nothing to be surprised about. We’re often asked for our expert insight by the media as we discuss what feels like a never-ending carousel of incident after incident, and this latest leak was yet another in what has been a big year for data breaches on the whole.
Our client numbers continue to grow given how often these kinds of incidents are taking place. When personal and sensitive information is misused or exposed, it’s important that victims know their rights.
It was discovered last week that the addresses for people on the 2019 New Year’s Honours List had been accidentally published online. This meant that the names and addresses of recipients were visible, and the information may have been viewed by anyone.
The incident has been labelled a ‘complete disaster’ as apologies have been issued and the UK’s data watchdog – the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – has confirmed that they – “will be making enquiries”.
The details for over 1,000 recipients of awards is understood to have been made publicly available online by mistake. Those affected by the leak include members of England’s World Cup winning cricket team, actress Olivia Newton-John and pop legend Sir Elton John.
The New Year’s Honours List data leak is incredibly worrying for a number of reasons. There’s understood to be military personnel on the list whose addresses being leaks could put them in danger. At the same time, celebrities themselves who prefer privacy may now have had their addresses leaked, which could open the door to safety incidents as well.
This worry is so serious that security experts have issued specific warnings that some of those affected may need to review their current security arrangements.
But aside from the damage that can be done, another primary worry here is that this is yet another example of what we assume to be a human error incident that was totally avoidable. The GDPR makes clear the duties that people have to protect data, and its introduction thrust data protection into the limelight in a way it had never been known before.
Yet, despite this, we are still seeing these completely avoidable incidents. If this is any kind of marker as we kick off the new decade, we all ought to be very worried about the next big leak that’s yet to happen.
Victims of any kind of leak like the recent New Year’s Honours List incident, or those affected by other forms of breaches and hacks, can be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
In cases where information leaked is of a particularly personal and sensitive nature, data breach compensation amounts can be significant. It doesn’t matter if it’s “just an address”, because the context of this must always be assessed.
This has been prominent in the 56 Dean Street Clinic leak that we’re involved with, where the names and email addresses leaked were for users of an HIV service. In some cases, even a small amount of personal data that’s leaked can cause serious distress and problems, which are elements that victims can be entitled to claim compensation for.
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