G20 leaders’ data breach ‘regrettable’ says former immigration minister

Australia’s former immigration minister Scott Morrison has spoken out regarding the high-profile data leak involving the personal information of several G20 leaders.

Morrison admitted that the privacy breach, which saw the passport and visa details of Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and David Cameron, amongst others, accidentally disclosed, was “highly regrettable.”

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The leak was the result of human error, after an employee mistakenly sent the information via email to a member of the Asian Cup organising committee.

According to the Guardian, Mr Morrison claims that world leaders were told of the breach, although this is not being backed up by those affected.

Despite Morrison stating that “appropriate steps were taken to deal with all the relevant, other national governments at the time,” both Angela Merkel and the White House have indicated that they were only made aware of the issue by the press.

“The action was taken by departmental officials at the time and it was a regrettable action involving an individual act of human error and human beings are not infallible and the appropriate action was taken both within the department and whatever other advices were necessary,” Morrison added.

The problem was discovered after an email sent to the privacy commissioner was obtained by the world’s media under Australia’s freedom of information regulations.

“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 (ie prime ministers, presidents and their equivalents) attending the G20 leaders summit,” the email read.

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As the leak was not caused by a technical vulnerability, at least there is not a systematic issue with the security at Australia’s immigration department. However, the breach is still an embarrassing situation and one that is unlikely to be helped by the contradictory messages being conveyed by Mr Morrison.