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Victim details disclosed to alleged abuser in 'serious' Tusla breach


(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

A revelation that child and family agency Tusla accidentally disclosed the contact and location data of a mother and child victim to an alleged abuser has been described as "very serious".

The breach, which was revealed in the annual report of the Data Protection Commissioner, was among a number of errors by the agency.

Commenting on the failure, Noeline Blackwell, chief executive of the Rape Crisis Centre, said: "Undoubtedly that is a very serious breach of somebody else's privacy in a matter where we are talking about abuse within a relationship.

"Abuse can so often happen within the context of intimacy and family relationships, with the capacity for power to be abused."

She said everyone was capable of making a mistake but they could have serious consequences.

It was essential Tusla had mechanisms in place to ensure the matter was addressed, she added.

It was among a number of personal information breaches by Tusla in 2018 and 2019 .

Another breach included telling a grandparent the contact, location and school details of foster parents and children.

The grandparent later made contact with the foster parents.

In response, Tusla said it acknowledged the publication of the Data Protection Commissioner's annual report.

"Tusla is acutely aware of its responsibilities in relation to the very sensitive data we work with on a daily basis," it said.

"We continue to work proactively with the office of the Data Protection Commissioner to continuously improve our systems and practices to reflect data protection legislation, and the data protection rights of the children and families we work with.

"Behind what is in today's report are very detailed investigation reports which we are significantly engaged with the commissioner on, and in fact we are due to give further detailed responses to the commissioner next week.

"We will await the final findings of these investigations before commenting on the specific details.

"However, we want to assure the public that we are not waiting for the investigation reports to formally conclude before making improvements."

Tusla declined to elaborate on what measures it had taken to address the problem, and what it had put in place to prevent issues in the future.

The agency would not say if anyone had been disciplined as a result of the disclosures.

Tusla claimed last year it was on an ambitious journey of change "to improve our services and the relationship between the State and children, young people, families and communities".

It added: "This programme of work will be governed from the highest level of the organisation and tracked on a consistent and robust basis."

Irish Independent