PSNI investigating claims that it gave people's personal data to suspected paramilitaries

The PSNI says it is has commenced an investigation into claims that it unintentionally handed over hundreds of people's personal data to suspected loyalist paramilitaries.

Friday, 20th July 2018, 5:43 pm
Updated Friday, 20th July 2018, 5:48 pm

An article in this morning’s Irish News claims that the data was on a pen drive that was left in a computer device that was returned to loyalists under investigation by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force.

It said the devices had been taken for forensic examination as part of the investigation and were later returned to their owners.

According to the report, the pen drive left in one of the devices contained personal data of “hundreds of private citizens” and a number of businesses, including emails and email passwords.

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Responding to the claims made in the article, Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray said: “We take these allegations extremely seriously and have now commenced an investigation into the contents of today’s newspaper article.

“To date, it remains the case that PSNI has not been made aware of any data loss through our internal reporting mechanisms.

“We are seeking to validate the contents of the article and establish if PSNI is indeed the data owner.

“We appeal to anyone who may have knowledge or possession of the alleged pen drive to contact police.”

A spokesperson for the Information Commissioner’s Office said: “Organisations have a legal duty to ensure the security of any personal data they hold.

“We have been made aware of an incident reported in the media this morning and are making enquiries.

“As the matter was only reported this morning, we will not be making any further comment at this time.”

Asked if the Police Ombudsman’s Office had received any complaints in relation to a possible data breach, a spokesperson would only say: “We are in discussions with the Information Commissioner’s Office about this matter.”