An employee from Australian immigration department accidentally leaked personal details of world leaders, while organizing the G20 summit last year. The department, which leaked information of leaders including that of U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, did not inform the leaders of the privacy breach, the Guardian reported.
The employee had accidentally sent an email with personal details of the leaders, to a member of the local organizing committee of the Asian Cup, which was held in January, the Guardian reported. The leaked data also included details of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and British Prime Minister David Cameron, all of whom attended the summit held in Brisbane.
“The personal information which has been breached is the name, date of birth, title, position nationality, passport number, visa grant number and visa subclass held relating to 31 international leaders (ie prime ministers, presidents and their equivalents) attending the G20 leaders summit,” the Guardian reported, citing an email sent to the commissioner’s office.
The email reportedly said: “The cause of the breach was human error. [Redacted] failed to check that the autofill function in Microsoft Outlook had entered the correct person’s details into the email ‘To’ field. This led to the email being sent to the wrong person. The matter was brought to my attention directly by [redacted] immediately after receiving an email from [the recipient] informing them that they had sent the email to the wrong person. The risk remains only to the extent of human error, but there was nothing systemic or institutional about the breach.”
The breach had affected a total of 32 people, of which 31 attended the summit and one was the official who received the email. The email claims that it was unlikely that the passport and visa information was in the public domain and could be used in any manner. A spokesman for Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection also told CNN that the recipient of the email had immediately destroyed the details of the mail.
"The Department has reviewed and strengthened its email protocols to limit and contain future breaches," a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, said in a statement, according to CNN.
However, Tanya Plibersek, Australia’s deputy opposition leader, asked Prime Minister Tony Abbott to explain why the leaders were not notified of the breach. “The prime minister and the immigration minister must explain this serious incident and the decision not to inform those affected,” she said.
Sarah Hanson-Young, senator for Greens, another political party in Australia, said, according to the Guardian: “Only last week the government was calling on the Australian people to trust them with their online data, and now we find out they have disclosed the details of our world leaders,” adding: “This is another serious gaffe by an incompetent government.”