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In the worst cases, data breaches can involve highly sensitive information, compromising the privacy and safety of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. In particular, social services breaches often affect the most vulnerable victims, leaving them open to even more risks than they already face.
Generally run by local councils, social services offer support to their local communities, whether this is providing assistance for people with disabilities, running care homes, or setting up domestic abuse support groups. While social services are absolutely essential to ensuring the safety and well-being of the people under their care, this protection can break down when a data breach occurs.
Anyone who has been let down by a social services data breach may be able to claim compensation for the harm caused.
Social services breaches usually affect the most vulnerable victims of society, because their personal details are often kept under protection not simply for the sake of their privacy, but also for their safety. For example, children who have grown up in care often take new surnames to keep their biological parents anonymous, so if their public identity were to be compromised by private details relating to their parents, it could completely compromise the safety mechanisms designed to protect them.
As another example, social services sometimes support victims of crime who may also be protected for good reasons as well. If their status as victims were to be revealed by a data breach, this may deny them the opportunity to start afresh and remain safe from harm.
In recent years, we have seen that social services breaches affect the most vulnerable people in a number of examples. The Bristol City Council data breach is one such case, as this saw the exposure of names and email addresses relating to children with disabilities and special educational needs. This happened after the council failed to hide the list of recipients in a mass email. The error allowed hundreds of children’s guardians to see these personal details.
Similarly, the Newcastle Council data breach occurred when a party invitation was sent out in an email to children and their adoptive parents, unintentionally including an attachment of an internal spreadsheet containing private information.
Rochdale Council also made a data protection error recently after accidentally sending a letter that revealed a former domestic violence victim’s information to a third party.
If the information exposed in any of these breaches were to get into the wrong hands, it could lead to fraudulent data misuse. It can also endanger the safety of the victims, or it may even prompt online or in-person abuse.
We understand that social services breaches affect the most vulnerable people in our society, which is why we believe these breaches should be treated with the sensitivity that they deserve. They are often caused by the most basic errors, but this does not mean that councils can get off lightly; we need to hold them to account to ensure they learn from their mistakes.
If you think you may have a claim to make, contact us today and we will be happy to offer you free, no-obligation advice.
As a leading firm of data breach lawyers with experience representing clients in some of the most sensitive breaches to have ever taken place, we are here to help you.
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