Saturday 16 December 2017

Personal details of almost 2,000 civil servants incorrectly 'leaked' - PSEU conference

The data breach happened in the past week
The data breach happened in the past week
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

The personal details of almost 2,000 civil servants, including their pps numbers and detail of leave taken, was incorrectly “leaked” in a major data breach, the PSEU conference has heard.

The incident which happened in the past week occurred when a spreadsheet containing the personal details of 1,914 civil servants was inadvertently shared with two HR managers by Peoplepoint, the civil service’s shared human resources service.

The personal information included the name, gender, pps number, employment details, grade, work pattern, details of special leave taken, nature of special leave, reason for leave applied for and dates and duration of that leave. All the information was unencrypted.

Sean Caribini, assistant general secretary of PSEU said the union has requested a meeting with Peoplepoint to discuss the breach and raise concerns as to how it had occurred.

Read more: Civil servants instruct union to seek restoration to pre-Haddington Road hours

An emergency motion at the PSEU conference expressed concern at the breaches of data rights of civil servants by Peoplepoint and sought the executive committee to engage with the body to explain the extent and causes of the breaches.

Dermot Browne of the Revenue Group told the conference the data was “leaked” in the form of an excel spreadsheet to two HR managers “who had no entitlement to read the information”.

He said those affected had received a “very, very weak apology”.

“If that is not an absolute scandal I don’t know what is. If we have to come away from this conference with at least one thing it should be the likes of this has to stop.

“Even beside the fact that the stuff is on a spreadsheet we want to know why the information is being gathered in such a manner,” he said.

This concern was echoed by other delegates whose data was included on the list, who queried why such information was being collated on them

Derek Newcombe of the Education and Skills branch opposed the motion, saying he accepted the leak had been a mistake.

Michelle O’Keeffe who works with Peoplepoint said the data breach had been alerted to the Data Protection Commissioner.

This is the second time such a breach has occurred within Peoplepoint.  In October the details of 317 people, including their names, PPS numbers, grade, department and details of overpayments, were shared with the incorrect HR departments.

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