Public Health Data Leak Reveals 18,105 Welsh Residents With COVID-19
Health information is meant to be kept confidential and is considered sensitive information. However, in Wales, the Public Health Agency revealed that an accidental data leak exposed the personal data of 18,105 Welsh residents who tested positive for COVID-19.
The agency said that the data was visible for 20 hours on a public server on 30th August 2020 and had up to 56 views. This data leak shows every resident of Wales that had tested positive to COVID-19 between 27th February and 30th August 2020.
The data contained their initials, date of birth, gender, and general location. However, there was no specific information on their identities. About 1,926 of the people affected live in supported housing or nursing homes, and the data contains their locations.
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The Public Health Agency says the data was meant for its internal private Tableau dashboard. Instead, an employee accidentally clicked the wrong button, posting it to the public-facing page.
“We take our obligations to protect people’s data extremely seriously and I am sorry that on this occasion we failed. I would like to reassure the public that we have in place very clear processes and policies on data protection,” Tracey Cooper, Public Health Wales’ chief executive, said in a statement.
Public Health Wales says it’s separating its internal and public dashboard processes to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s also adding more checks to ensure that people are uploading data to the proper servers.
The agency is conducting an independent investigation into the COVID-19 data leak and examining why the data wasn’t anonymous.
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