London: An email by the Australian immigration department accidentally revealed personal details of world leaders at the last G20 summit, including that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a leading British daily reported on Monday.
An employee mistakenly sent the passport numbers, visa details and other personal identifiers of all world leaders attending the summit to the organisers of the Asian Cup football tournament, The Guardian reported.
After the privacy breach was brought to the notice of the director of the visa services division, she contacted the Australian privacy commissioner seeking his urgent advice.
“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 attending the G20 leaders summit,” the director said in the email, details of which were obtained under Australia’s freedom of information laws, according to the daily.
She attributed the breach to a human error, saying the employee “failed to check that the autofill function in Microsoft Outlook had entered the correct person’s details into the email ‘To’ field”, which led to the email being sent to the wrong person.
“The risk remains only to the extent of human error, but there was nothing systemic or institutional about the breach,” the director added. According to the officer, it was “unlikely that the information is in the public domain”.
However, the immigration officer went on to recommend that the world leaders not be made aware of the breach of their personal information.
“Given that the risks of the breach are considered very low and the actions that have been taken to limit the further distribution of the email, I do not consider it necessary to notify the clients of the breach,” The Guardian quoted her as saying in the email.
The report did not name the immigration officer.
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