Tags: Australia | Obama | Putin | G20 | passports

Aussie Goof: Obama, Putin Among Leaders Who Had Personal Info Leaked

Aussie Goof: Obama, Putin Among Leaders Who Had Personal Info Leaked
(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images; Maxim Shipenkov/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 30 March 2015 10:40 AM

In a massive security breach, Australian immigration officials accidentally leaked details of President Barack Obama's passport and those of 30 other top world leaders attending the G20 summit meeting last November.

And Australian authorities did not act immediately to inform the world leaders of the serious lapse in security, stating in an email marked "For Official Use Only — Sensitive," obtained under Australia's freedom of information laws, "given that the risks of the breach are considered very low and the actions that have been taken to limit the further distribution of the email, I do not consider it necessary to notify the clients of the breach," The Guardian reported.

The Guardian notes that the leak is a violation of privacy laws in several of the countries whose leaders were affected, which require notification of security breaches.

The emailed leak, accidentally sent to the organizer of the Asian Cup soccer tournament, contained the dates of birth, passport numbers, visa and other information of the world leaders, who also included Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders of China, Indonesia, Britain, India, and Japan, The Washington Post reported.

"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 (i.e. prime ministers, presidents and their equivalents) attending the G20 leaders summit," an immigration officer reporting the breach noted in the emails.

"The cause of the breach was human error. [Redacted] failed to check that the autofill function in Microsoft Outlook had entered the correct person's details into the email 'To' field. This led to the email being sent to the wrong person.

"The matter was brought to my attention directly by [redacted] immediately after receiving an email from [the recipient] informing them that they had sent the email to the wrong person.

"The risk remains only to the extent of human error, but there was nothing systemic or institutional about the breach," the email states.

The breach proved embarrassing to the government of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in that he strongly supported a recently passed law calling on telephone companies and Internet providers to retain data for two years, The Guardian noted.

Tanya Plibersek, Australian deputy opposition leader, told The Guardian: "The prime minister and the immigration minister must explain this serious incident and the decision not to inform those affected," and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young blasted, "only last week the government was calling on the Australian people to trust them with their online data, and now we find out they have disclosed the details of our world leaders.

"This is another serious gaffe by an incompetent government."

The Guardian noted that in February Australian immigration officials accidentally leaked personal details on nearly 10,000 people in detention, including many asylum seekers.

A government spokesman told ABC News: "The department has reviewed and strengthened its email protocols to limit and contain future breaches."

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In a massive security breach, Australian immigration officials accidentally leaked details of President Barack Obama's passport and those of 30 other top world leaders attending the G20 summit meeting last November.
Australia, Obama, Putin, G20, passports
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2015-40-30
Monday, 30 March 2015 10:40 AM
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