14 August 2013

ACC screws up again, but the PM doesn't care

ACC is in trouble again after another privacy breach, this time involving the theft of a hand-written notebook from a case manager's home, containing personal information, including bank account and contact details, of at least 35 claimants.
ACC says it has a clear policy that 'Employees are not allowed to take client information home ... without prior approval from a senior manager, which would normally only be given on assurance of security of the information, usually by way of encrypted data and secure remote electronic access.' So, based on that, it appears that the handwritten notes should not have been taken to the case manager's home at all.
But, as if to confuse concerned members of the public, the Prime Minister was quoted on Radio NZ playing the whole thing down on the grounds that it was probably a 'diligent person that's taken some work home' - just like even he does sometimes. And, hey, a burglary can happen to anyone when least expected. Let's hope he doesn't lose any GCSB briefings.
It's disappointing that the country's leader attributes a serious breach of privacy to an employee being 'diligent', rather than to a failure to respect clients' rights and privacy policies.
What's also troubling is that ACC took 10 days to approach affected and potentially affected clients. That does not pass the sniff test. There's now a suspicion that the Corporation was hoping they could get the notebook back and keep the breach quiet without telling the affected clients.
People affected by this kind of privacy breach should be informed as soon as practicable, however. And the PM should stick up for higher standards of conduct in the state services, and not excuse poor performance.


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