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1,000 New Year Honours recipients suffer a data breach

new years honours

While most of us were enjoying a well-earned break, the home addresses of 1,000 people were posted online. In this case, the impact of the data breach could have far-reaching repercussions as those affected included high-profile individuals such as Sir Elton John and Olivia Newton-John. Politicians (including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith) and serving police officers were also impacted by the breach.

Of course, at Hayes Connor, we don’t distinguish between celebs and ordinary people when it comes to upholding data privacy rights. But it is especially worrying that this sensitive information was put at risk and could have fallen into the wrong hands – particularly as many of the recipients are controversial figures. As such, many of those affected will need to assess/increase their current security arrangements.

What happened in this case?

The house numbers and postcodes of hundreds of famous people recognised as part of the British honours system were left available online about an hour. It is likely that the data breach was caused by human error. The Cabinet Office has since apologised for the data protection failure, and the matter has been reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), but this is unlikely to help soothe the concerns of those affected.

Commenting on the data breach a spokesperson for privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch said:

“It’s extremely worrying to see that the Government doesn’t have a basic grip on data protection, and that people receiving some of the highest honours have been put at risk because of this.

“It’s a farcical and inexcusable mistake, especially given the new Data Protection Act passed by the Government last year – it clearly can’t stick by its rules.”

What can be done about the New Year Honours data breach?

According to press reports, one victim of the data breach has said that “If those responsible have apologised and it is a genuine error, then there is not much more that can be done”. But this is not actually the case. The vast majority of data breaches are caused by poor data protection policies and a failure to put adequate security procedures and training in place. As such, organisations that expose people to this level of risk must be held accountable for their actions.

Every day we help the victims of data breaches who have become miserable, upset and emotionally distressed by privacy violations. All too often, these victims will have tried to engage with the organisation that has committed the violation. But they will have been rebuffed or offered a wholly inadequate excuse. Almost every organisation fails to recognise the stress, anxiety, upset and anguish caused by the data breach. And it looks like the government is no exception.

What is Hayes Connor doing to help victims of data breaches?

Hayes Connor Solicitors is a law firm operating in the data breach and protection sector. We help our clients to claim data breach compensation following data protection violations, GDPR breaches and other cyber offences.  We are an established and trusted firm that has been helping people to claim compensation for over 50 years.

Over the past two years, we have become a true specialist in the relatively new but increasingly important field of data breach law. And today, this is all we do. Because we have been winning data protection cases longer than most other solicitors, we are more experienced when it comes to understanding the complexities involved. We are also the only legal firm to launch a multi-party action against the ticketing giant Ticketmaster and, in April 2019, our multi-million-pound damages claim against Ticketmaster was issued in the High Court. The estimated total value of our claim on behalf of more than 650 clients is £5 million.

In 2019 we were highly commended for two prestigious legal awards, and so far this year we have already been shortlisted in two categories for the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards 2020.

Last year alone we opened over 4500 new cases and, crucially, we have a history of winning data breach compensation cases on behalf of our clients.

In larger cases, we work alongside expert data protection barristers. This means you will get the very best level of legal support available.

This means that when someone appoints us, we ensure they get the very best level of legal support available.

Find out more about our data breach experts.