Personal details of 15,000 council tenants published online in data leak

Hackney Town Hall with sky

Hackney Town Hall. Photograph: Hackney Citizen

Personal details of 15,000 council tenants and leaseholders have been published online, in an accidental data leak by Hackney Council.

The council has apologised after a spreadsheet containing personal details of thousands of Hackney Homes tenants was leaked on the website What Do They Know, included in a response to a Freedom of Information request.

The information was published online on 17 November and included names, dates of birth, addresses and some details of rent payments.

The council insists that the information would not be visible to “casual viewers” of the document, and that an earlier version of the document – which contained the details – would be accessible only to those with “detailed IT knowledge”.

The document was viewed by 11 people before it was removed.

The Town Hall has written to the 15,000 people whose details were included in the spreadsheet, to inform them of the error and to warn them to check the identity of anyone who asks for personal information.

Apologising for the slip-up, Chief Executive of Hackney Homes Charlotte Graves said: “Hackney Homes and the Council takes data protection very seriously and we’re very sorry that this has happened.

“As soon as we were made aware, we ensured the information was removed and wrote to those residents whose details were included. We have also taken immediate action to ensure it does not happen again.

“Sadly the media is full of stories of people who’ve been scammed by sophisticated scams, so we want to remind residents to be extra careful, especially in the run-up to Christmas, when we’re all busier than usual.”

The council said future spreadsheets will be released as PDFs, to ensure that previous versions cannot be viewed.