An online consultation opened yesterday encouraging the public to contribute their views as to how broadband providers can best prevent children accessing pornography has yielded an ‘astounding’ blunder by its organisers.
Those who took the time to express their opinions on sensitive subjects such as explicit online material, the responsibilities of parents, censorship and cyberbullying were able, once they’d completed the questionnaire, to view the names, email addresses, passwords and consultation responses of others.
Once the privacy flaw had been reported to the Information Commissioner, Department of Education technicians shut down the website this morning [Friday 29/6]. A spokeswoman for the Department of Education had this to say:
“We are aware of a technical problem affecting our Parental Internet Controls consultation website and have taken the site down while we investigate further. We will take all the necessary steps to correct the problem.”
On the other hand, Nick Pickles – Director of civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch – was left shocked by the incident:
“At a time when the Home Office wants to monitor our emails and the websites we visit and the Department for Education is consulting on forcing internet providers to control people’s internet access, this kind of fundamental security failure is nothing short of astounding.”
He added: “It calls into question whether the Government has any credibility whatsoever on technology issues, despite repeated assurances that lessons of the past have been learned.”
Have you ever been the victim of a data breach or an accidental over-exposure of your personal information? We’d like to hear your stories and opinions on this matter, so please feel free to make your voiced heard in the comments section below.