EQC privacy breach disinformation | The Jackal

26 Mar 2013

EQC privacy breach disinformation

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The insurance advocate who was sent details on 83,000 claimants in the Earthquake Commission privacy breach says the document contained detailed information on the expected number of settlements and the estimated cost of the claims.

Clearly EQC grossly underestimated the size of the privacy breach... I wonder why?

EQC announced yesterday that every Canterbury resident who had made a home repair claim after the quakes had their privacy breached last week.

It is believed to be one of the largest privacy breaches by a government agency in the country's history.

The information was mistakenly sent to former EQC employee Bryan Staples, the chief executive of insurance resolution company Earthquake Services, who is in regular contact with the commission.

An insurance advocate who used to work for EQC? Something smells very fishy.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson yesterday said it was initially thought the information of 9700 people was emailed in error.

But the scale of the breach ballooned to more than eight times that size after it was realised that if filters within the spreadsheet were manipulated, all the claims could be seen.

Actually it was one of the four people who viewed the spreadsheet when it was opened by Bryan Staples that made the discovery. They subsequently informed Labour's earthquake spokesperson, Lianne Dalziel about the extent of the privacy breach, who properly informed EQC, the media and the responsible ministers office.

If EQC or Gerry Brownlee's office didn't comprehend the email they were sent about the privacy breach or couldn't read the spreadsheet properly they're entirely incompetent. But it's more likely that they tried to down play the issue by providing false information to save face.

Once again it's a question of gross incompetence or lies from a government department.

Yesterday, 3 News reported:

The bungle was not identified by EQC's own investigations; instead they were tipped off by Labour's earthquake spokesperson Lianne Dalziel who was called by one of the four people who saw the document.

Ms Dalziel says she informed EQC on Sunday and now claims they tried to deny the actual figure was nearly seven times worse than they thought.

"The truth is no one at EQC or the minister’s office checked the email thoroughly enough.

So, we're expected to believe that EQC didn't know the extent of the privacy breach despite them having it available in the form of the spreadsheet and being sent an email detailing exactly what was leaked? Unbelievable!

Yesterday, the Herald reported:

Key plays down issue

Prime Minister John Key has played down the extent of a privacy breach by the Earthquake Commission in which the information of 83,000 claimants was leaked.

Mr Key said he was disappointed but breaches were expected to some extent in all government departments and agencies.

You can expect a few small accidental privacy breaches, but the sheer size and scope of privacy breaches under this National government points to incompetency, complacency or corruption at the highest levels.

"For the sheer volume of information that's dealt with the number of breaches are relatively small or decreasing.

What a load of rot! There's more breaches since National came to power than ever before... From the WINZ Kiosks security flaw that the government knew of and did nothing about for over a year to the ACC privacy breach that contained the sensitive information of thousands of claimants, John Keys government has categorically proven its ineptitude!

"EQC has been dealing with huge amounts of information and hundreds of thousands of client contacts in the last few years and have had one breach."

One breach? I think that's highly unlikely. But even if it's true, playing down what is likely the largest ever privacy breach by a government agency is not acceptable. You would expect the Prime Minister to treat such a huge breach of privacy with the gravitas it deserves.

In my opinion, the main problem is that lots of public servants were sacked or replaced with people who support National. These people weren't more qualified or competent than those they replaced, and that degradation of the public service through cronyism has led to widespread problems.

Privacy breaches are just one result of Nationals mismanagement... There are many many more.