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The revelation that MSD and Child Youth and Family have been involved in a massive and serious breach of privacy is not only staggering, it compromises the entire premise of Paula Bennett's white paper says Labour’s spokesperson for Social Development and Children, Jacinda Ardern.
It has been reported that the personal information of thousands of MSD clients - including vulnerable children in CYF’s care – was easily accessible to anyone using the self-service kiosks at Work and Income. The kiosks were first rolled out in 2010 and were due to be in all offices by 2012.
The information included the details of children in the high and complex needs unit and children in CYF’s ‘safe houses’.
“This is an appalling breach of privacy and comes on top of serious security lapses at ACC and the IRD.
“It exposes a massive weakness in the wake of Ms Bennett's white paper which is based on the creation of a shared database to monitor vulnerable kids.
“It raises serious doubts about the Department’s ability to properly protect the highly sensitive information it holds, and while the compromised data is now in the hands of the Privacy Commissioner, the damage has been done.
“The Minister must urgently demonstrate that she has put greater security around her department’s systems, both to restore the public's confidence, but most importantly to ensure the safety of vulnerable children.
“The privacy of Kiwis accessing the services provided by the Ministry of Social Development is paramount.
“A breach of this magnitude - where the full names, prescribed medication, physical addresses and even the cause of vulnerable children being in CYFs care could too easily have ended up in the wrong hands - is nothing short of staggering.
“It demonstrates an extremely careless and cavalier attitude to New Zealanders’ privacy.
“The Government has again shown it cannot be trusted to manage the most vital information properly,” Jacinda Ardern says.