An Australian officer accidentally leaked highly sensitive personal details of 31 world leaders. Though the situation was contained, the country is red-faced at second such incident.
Australia, the country that orgainzed the G20 summit last year, was left red-faced, when in a major diplomatic embarrassment, one of its immigration officials leaked personal details of 31 world leaders. The United States president, Barack Obama, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, and the British prime minister, David Cameron, were among those who attended the Brisbane summit in November and whose details were exposed, albeit with no ill-intention.
What’s even more appalling is the fact that the gaffe, which was fortunately tackled with a few minutes, was never revealed by Australia. Australian Immigration Department attempted to bury the security breach. Only when the Australia’s deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek, urged the country’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott to explain why the world leaders weren’t notified about the incident, did the world come to know. As reported by The Guardian.
“An employee of the agency inadvertently sent the passport numbers, visa details and other personal identifiers of all the world leaders attending the Summit to the organizers of the Asian Cup Football tournament.”
In an email sent to the commissioner’s office, obtained under Australia’s freedom of information laws, the officer who inadvertently caused the leak, wrote,
“The personal information which has been breached is the name, date of birth, title, position nationality, passport number, visa grant number and visa subclass held relating to 31 international leaders (i.e. prime ministers, presidents and their equivalents) attending tthe G20 leaders’ summit.”
Australia has chalked up the grave error to “human error,” saying.
“The cause of the breach was human error. [Redacted] failed to check that the autofill function in Microsoft Outlook had entered the correct person’s details into the email ‘To’ field. This led to the email being sent to the wrong person.”
The officer further added that it is “highly unlikely that the information is in the public domain” and the absence of other personal identifiers “limits significantly” the risk of the breach. Moreover, the unauthorized person is said to have immediately deleted the mail and “emptied their deleted items folder.”
Apparently Australia has committed such a blunder in the past. Just last year, the same immigration department had inadvertently disclosed the personal details of almost 10,000 people in detention in a public file on its website.
[Image Credit | Reuters via The Hindu]