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Hackney Council Data Breach

Hackney Council Data Breach

In July last year, Hackney Council experienced a data breach that saw sensitive information concerning vulnerable people shared publicly online. The names and addresses of women and children living in local hostels for their safety, vulnerable tenants’ information and contact details for council estate residents who had requested repairs (including broken doors) were exposed online.

It was revealed that the cause for the data breach was the privacy settings on the online project management tool, Trello being set to public. This breach was only brought to light when investigators from the local newspaper Hackney Citizen informed the council of the IT blunder.

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The breach happened just months after a serious cyber-attack saw vital online services go down for weeks and later resulted in stolen data being published on the dark web. Following the attack, Hackney mayor Philip Glanville promised to tighten the council’s security measures. However, numerous documents were leaked online due to human error.

What data was revealed in the Hackney Council data breach?

This careless mistake meant that sensitive documents, such as an unredacted spreadsheet containing the names and addresses of women placed in temporary accommodation for their safety, became available to anyone with access to the internet. This was not only a privacy error but could also put them in serious physical danger.

 

Weeks later, a second upload published contact details for council tenants who had requested repairs for boilers, door buzzers and broken doors. Other instances involved a screenshot of a vulnerable tenant’s address and NI number, notes from a frail resident’s welfare check and minutes from a housing meeting revealing the council was losing a significant amount of money caused by the cyber-attack in October.

 

Links were repeatedly posted to a public Google doc that covered which flats are likely to be empty during the school run period. All of which were made possible by manually setting workspaces to public, despite a post for inducting new employees specifically warning users to be careful when using Trello and Google docs. It stated: “If you don’t take steps to protect work-related information while using such tools, it could put people and services at risk.”

An image of the front view of Hackney town hall

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Who is affected by the Hackney Council data breach?

One of the major groups of people affected were those living in the building that housed up to a hundred vulnerable women and children. Tenants in council estates and living in council housing have also been affected.

 

There are roughly 280,000 people in the Hackney borough and despite the data leaked from the initial cyber-attack was ‘limited’, this further breach could affect a lot more.

How do I know if I have been affected by the Hackney Council Data Breach?

By law, Hackney Council must contact anyone affected by either of these data breaches directly. But it’s also possible to ask the Council if your personal information is at risk by making a data Subject Access Request (SAR).


How can HNK Solicitors help with my data breach claim?

HNK Solicitors have a team of expert data protection solicitors with many years of experience dealing with data breach claims. We have been successful in obtaining compensation for clients who have been affected by data breaches against a wide variety of defendants based in England and other countries across the world.

 

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you have the right to claim compensation for any inconvenience, distress, or monetary loss you have suffered as a result of your data being breached. You have the legal right to have your personal information kept private, and any companies that do not comply with data protection laws should be held to account.

 

If you have been affected by the Hackney Council data breach, contact HNK Solicitors for a free no-obligation consultation. Our experts will be able to offer advice on pursuing a claim against Hackney Council, and we may be able to mount a group litigation case against the council to get those affected the compensation they deserve.

Free Consultation

Contact HNK Solicitors to arrange a free no-obligation consultation where we can offer free advice on pursuing a claim against Hackney Council.

No-win-no-fee

HNK offers a no-win, no-fee service, which means it will not cost you a penny upfront to start your claim. This means you can pursue your claim on a no-risk basis and only have to pay a small percentage if your claim is successful.

Client Communication

We understand this process can be distressing, so we handle everything for you and keep you up to date throughout the whole process.
FAQ

Was Hackney Council responsible for the breach?

The breach occurred through human error. Someone at Hackney Council had set the privacy settings on Trello, the online project management tool they used, to public. This meant that sensitive data, such as an unredacted spreadsheet containing the names and addresses of women in Hackney placed in temporary accommodation for their safety, became available to anyone with access to the internet.

What is a group litigation case?

A group litigation/group action claim or case is where a group of people – which can be as many as thousands – have all been affected by the same issue. All the people in the group collectively bring their cases to court against the Defendant and fight together to get compensation. This strengthens their overall position and can make a big organisation take a matter more seriously. It can also increase their chances of settlement or success in litigation.

Just because you are part of a group litigation claim, this doesn’t mean that everyone in the group will receive the same amount of compensation. Every claim within the group is settled based on the individual’s situation.

What can I claim for?

If your data has been breached, you can claim for both damages and distress. So, you can claim for any financial losses or emotional distress you have suffered as a result of having your data stolen. However, you also have the right to claim, even if you haven’t suffered as a result of the failure to protect your data as, by law, public bodies like Hackney Council must keep your personal data safe.

How much will it cost?

Nothing upfront. If we deem you have a case that has a high chance of success, we will offer you a no-win, no-fee agreement. This means it won’t cost you a penny to start your claim, and you won’t have to pay a thing if your claim is unsuccessful.

If your case is successful, the legal costs which consist of the work HNK Solicitors has done for you and disbursement costs such as court and barrister fees will be recovered from the Defendant themselves and the compensation you are rewarded. HNK cap the costs they take from your compensation at 25%, so no matter what you will get at least 75% of the compensation in the end.

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