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More Data Breaches Sign Of 'Confidence' In Authorities

The Data Protection Commissioner says breaches often involve medical information.

The Bailiwick's Data Protection Commissioner says the two-year high in data breaches is likely due to increased confidence and trust in the authorities.

Between July and August, 36 cases of personal information being leaked were recorded by the Office of the Data Protection Authority.

That's the highest figure in a two-month period since 2019.

22 of the reports were a result of an organisation's employee sending information to the wrong recipient. Nine were through the post and 13 were emailed.

Data Protection Commissioner Emma Martin told Island FM that the higher number of recorded incidents does not mean there are more breaches happening.

"This may an indication that there are a number of breaches occurring that are greater this time of year, which is unusual because it's holiday season, but it's also - I think - probably an indication that organisations are more confident in their reporting and trusting us to do the right thing with that information."

It is thought most of the data breaches were down to human error and most organisations self-reported the incidents to the ODPA. The commissioner says that makes fixing issues easier.

"The great thing about the fact that it's human error - the only good thing - is the fact that there is something we can do about it. Understanding that data is valuable, how it's handled really matters - it matters for the organisation and it matters for the people it's about - so, keeping staff trained and engaged. If we engage with it on a more human level I think we'll engage with the requirements of the law in a more positive way."

Ms Martin acknowledged that many islanders may feel removed from the concept of personal data. She explained what most data breaches relate to across the Bailiwick.

"A data breach can involve your medical records and your financial information so it's very, very private information, very personal information that can have a huge impact on individuals.

Once we understand that it's a very human thing, we can engage with the concept a lot more - encouraging organisations to take responsibility for how that information is handled and how it's looked after."

One of the examples the ODPA provided was that an organisation recently sent a long health report about a child to the wrong family in the post. Officials say this should serve as a reminder to companies to adhere to the guidance set out by the ODPA.

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