Council apologises after data on 1,000 businesses shared due to ‘isolated human error’

Officials at Great Yarmouth Borough Council have apologised over a data breach affecting more than 1

Officials at Great Yarmouth Borough Council have apologised over a data breach affecting more than 1,000 businesses Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

A council has apologised to more than 1,000 businesses in Great Yarmouth after personal information about them was shared by mistake.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has said the data breach affected some 20pc of businesses, but that there was no financial risk to the victims.

It revealed data had been shared with one other un-named business which had been sent the information in response to a request for details held on its own account.

As well as receiving its own information the enterprise was sent details belonging to 1,147 others too.

The company has been asked to “securely destroy” the information it received in error, and affected businesses have been written to alerting them of the risk.

MORE: Small businesses hit by coronavirus reminded to claim lockdown lifeline grantThe letter, seen by this newspaper, warns “a small amount of personal data” had been disclosed to another business ratepayer, including names, reference numbers, trading and correspondence addresses.

It stresses no financial information had been released and apologises for any inconvenience.

In a statement, Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “The council has written to 1,147 businesses – about a fifth of the business rate payers – to inform them that a limited amount of personal information held on their business rate accounts was accidentally released to another business rate payer.

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“No financial information, such as bank account numbers or card details, was released.

“The council identified this error almost immediately, notified the Information Commissioner’s Office and asked the recipient to securely destroy the information.

“This occurred due to isolated human error.

“The information released that was not already accessible in the public domain – notably account references and correspondence address – is of relatively low risk.

“However, the council takes all data security very seriously and has taken all necessary steps to mitigate any risk, written to businesses as a precautionary measure, and put in place procedures to ensure it does not reoccur.”

MORE: Great Yarmouth council to resume collection of garden wasteThe council said the breach happened as part of a council response to a customer’s request for data relating to their own individual business and was not related to any council projects, or to the administration of the government’s Covid-19 relief grants for businesses.