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Council 'Sent Out Confidential Information by Accident'

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7:05am 30th January 2013

A top level inquiry's launched after Pirate FM revealed claims Cornwall council has been accidentally sending out other people's confidential information.

One man says he has had details of everything from housing benefits to payouts being stopped.

He ended up forwarding it onto the right people, using the information inside.

The council says it is reviewing procedures.

Martin Batsford from Four Lanes said: "We don't want to be nosey and find out what everyone else is earning and not earning and, basically, we know everything. If it had come to the wrong hands, it's got all the details there - we could do what we want.

"I don't know where my details have gone at some point when they haven't turned up. Cornwall Council should keep a check on where their post is going."

It is thought letters might have become bundled together by machinery used to send out the letters.

Nick Pickles from Big Brother Watch said: "Yes the number of accidents might be very low. But it only takes one accident to completely change someone's life and devastate their sense of privacy."

"Situations do arise when councils do need to use machines or ways of speeding up the process of writing to people. That can not be at the expense of proper checks and balances to ensure that accidents don't happen."

In a statement the council told Pirate FM: "Cornwall Council takes its data handling responsibilities seriously and any data security breaches are fully reported and investigated appropriately.

"The Council was previously unaware of this particular alleged data breach.  As a result of receiving this information, we have now commenced a full internal investigation at senior level. This follows a rigorous process through our information security procedures.

"As part of that we will be arranging to visit the Complainant to ascertain the nature of any possible data breach which may have occurred and reviewing internal procedures with a view to preventing any potential future occurrences."

The council recently revealed plans to carry out 'lie detector' tests on people claiming council tax reductions.

7:05am 30th January 2013

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