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New Years Honours List - High Profile Data Breach

A government data breach has resulted in the addresses of more than a thousand people named on the 2020 New Year’s honours list being published online. MP Iain Duncan Smith, whose personal data was included, condemns it as “a complete disaster”.

He is saying that ministers need to be raising some very serious questions about how this could have happened and he is asking why no final checks were carried out before the document with this private data was published.

“Everybody knows virtually everything about me. It’s much more concerning for private citizens, like those who have been involved in policing or counter-terrorism or other such sensitive cases, to have their addresses published.” 


It came to light on Friday 27th December that a spreadsheet containing the residential and work addresses of politicians, government officials and others had been posted by mistake on the government’s website. 

The Cabinet Office reported the matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office and confirmed that it was contacting all of the compromised individuals to provide advice and guidance should they had any security concerns. They also confirmed that once the breach had been detected it was removed within the hour.

The ICO, which has the power to impose large fines on organisations for data breaches, will be investigating this high profile breach. Since the introduction of general data protection regulation (GDPR) rules in May 2018, the ICO has been able to issue penalties equivalent to 4% of a company’s annual global turnover or £17m, whichever is greater.

The Cabinet Office could now face claims for compensation for unauthorised disclosure of personal data, and for any anxiety or distress suffered by those exposed on the list.

Forti5 is a team of leading experts in cyber security and GDPR providing data protection, privacy compliance, cyber security services, training and advice. We also certify organisations to IASME Information Assurance and Cyber Essentials. Contact our Southampton office on  02381 550005 or email:

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