The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has apologised for mistakenly revealing details of all its 10,000 staff. In response to a Freedom of Information request, the PSNI shared names of all police and civilian personnel, where they are based and their roles. The details were then published online, before being removed after two hours. NI’s Police Federation said the breach could cause “incalculable damage” and demanded new safeguards be put in place immediately. Apologising to officers, Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd said the error was “unacceptable.” He added: “We operate in an environment, at the moment, where there is a severe threat to our colleagues from Northern Ireland-related terrorism and this is the last thing that anybody in the organisation wants to be hearing this evening . . . I owe it to all of my colleagues to investigate this thoroughly and we’ve initiated that.”
Our HR Comment: Data breach identifies thousands of PSNI officers.
Matthew P Chilcott, FCIPD, ACEL, Owner of Consensus HR comments: “This is an example of when replying to a Freedom of Information request and the use of technology can go extremely wrong. Everybody has the right to ask to see recorded information held by public authorities.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act (FOISA) gives everyone the right to see information.
If you ask for environmental information, your request will be handled under the Environmental Regulations (EIRs) or Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations (EISRs).
There is a different way to make a request if you want information that an organisation holds about you. This includes things like your health records or credit reference files. Employees should make a Subject Access Request (SAR) and you have the right to ask an organisation whether or not they are using or storing your personal information. You can also ask them for copies of your personal information, verbally or in writing. Further information can be found on the ICO website or via your HR Department.”
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