Home Office reports itself to data watchdog after settled status emails breach
Home Office apologises for second data breach to come to light this week
The settled status scheme app. Photo: Isabel Infantes/EMPICS Entertainment
The Home Office has been forced to report itself to the national data watchdog after it accidentally shared the emails of hundreds of EU citizens applying to stay in the UK after Brexit.
The department notified the Information Commissioner's Office after it failed to mask the addresses in a group email to applicants of the settled status scheme.
Some 240 email addresses were revealed on 7 April afer an official failed to use the 'bcc' function to hide recipients' details.
The Home Office was contacting applicants who had faced technical difficulties while applying for the right to live and work in the UK after it leaves the EU.
In a fresh email last night, the department apologised to those concerned and insisted all other personal data held by the department remained safe.
Danish national Natasha Jung, whose email was shared, said on Twitter: “When will the UK wake up and realise that EU citizens are being treated as second class citizens?
“We have had zero say in the entire process, despite Brexit affecting us the most.”
This is the second data breach to come to light this week, after the Home Office admitted it had revealed email addresses of people seeking information about the Windrush compensation scheme.
In a statement today about the latest incident, a Home Office spokesperson said: “In communicating with a small group of applicants, an administrative error was made which meant other applicants’ email addresses could be seen.
“As soon as the error was identified, we apologised personally to the 240 applicants affected and have improved our systems and procedures to stop this occurring again.”
The department added that it had improved the checks carried out before communications are sent.
An ICO spokesperson said: “The Home Office have made us aware of an incident in relation to the EU settlement scheme and we will assess the information provided.”
The settled status scheme, which has been trialled for months and was rolled out across the country at the end of March, allows EU, EEA and Swiss nationals and their families to secure their rights in the UK after Brexit.
It is open to those who have lived in the country for five years or more, while those who have lived in the UK for less time can apply for ‘pre-settled status’.
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