UK: ICO called on to punish Milton Keynes Council

Tom Brewster reports:

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has been called on to reprimand Milton Keynes Council for a data breach which exposed citizens’ information.

The local authority admitted to accidentally posting results from a residents’ survey on its website, revealing addresses and phone numbers of 50 participants, the Milton Keynes Citizen reported.

Personal data from the survey, which asked for thoughts on a controversial park, remained online for around 18 hours towards the end of last week.

Read more on ITPro.  The article on Milton Keynes Citizen referred to in the story does not seem to be available at the time of this posting, but a cached copy suggests that it may not just be addresses and phone numbers:

MILTON Keynes Council has admitted breaching data protection law by publishing results of a residents’ survey on its website.

Personal information, including addresses and phone numbers of 50 people in Middleton who filled out a questionnaire and submitted it to the council were put online for around 18 hours at the end of last week before being withdrawn.

The survey was carried out to find out what local residents thought about the controversial park in Southside Lane, Middleton after complaints about anti-social behaviour – a story the Citizen covered in March.

One resident, Dr Bob Ranger, has been vocal in his stance against the play-park, and believes the publishing of the residents’ details is just another straw to break the camel’s back.

Dr Ranger said: “They published the contact details and other sensitive personal information of about 50 persons who have filled out a residents’ questionnaire and then submitted it to the council. It was put on the council website for 18 hours.

“Anybody could have seen all those details in the time they were online. Nobody will accept responsibility or offer a genuine apology.

“We got a press statement written by the council’s PR department that is supposed to count as an apology but adds insult to injury and inflames a delicate situation even more.”

Dr Ranger also believes the published details could have prompted acts of vandalism on his car.

David Hill, chief executive of the council, said: “The council has apologised for publishing personal data provided by the residents on the website, with all the background information.

“Although not strictly required by the Information Commissioner’s Office guidelines, we have notified a breach of the data protection legislation to the ICO and launched a data protection investigation.”

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