UK: Council sent benefit details to wrong recipients

The Isle of Anglesey County Council breached the Data Protection Act after sending benefit details to the wrong recipients, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said today.

The ICO was first made aware of the breach in November 2010 when the council reported that a contractor had mistakenly sent letters to the wrong individuals. The letters included financial information about benefit
entitlement, income and savings.

The ICO’s investigation found that the council had no written contract in place with the service provider to explain how personal data should have been handled in line with the council’s existing policies and procedures.

The authority has contacted the individuals who were involved in the mix up and will put in place contracts with all of the organisations who handle personal information on their behalf.

Anne Jones, Assistant Commissioner for Wales at the ICO said:

“An individual’s financial information, including details of their savings and benefits claims, is some of their most personal information. Therefore, this data loss would have been worrying and potentially embarrassing for those involved.

“People should be able to trust that organisations will keep their information secure. We are pleased that the council has taken action to rectify the problems uncovered during this incident and that they will also be following the steps the ICO has instructed them to take in order to stop any similar breach in the future.”

Clive McGregor, Executive Leader at Isle of Anglesey County Council, has signed a formal undertaking to ensure that any processing of personal data carried out on behalf of the council is completed under a contract
made and evidenced in writing, and that all contractors will only act on instruction from the council. All staff should also be aware of the council’s policy for the storage, use and disclosure or sharing of personal data and
receive the necessary training.

A full copy of the undertaking can be viewed here:
http://www.ico.gov.uk/what_we_cover/promoting_data_privacy/taking_a
ction.aspx#undertakings

Source: Information Commissioner’s Office

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