Donors Information Acessed in Australians Largest Data Leak

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The Australian Red Cross has reported a data breach. Photo: The Red Cross Blood Service

TAYLA SWALES

The Australian Red Cross has confirmed that the personal information of over 550,000 Australians has been leaked to the public.

The announcement came over the weekend that the personal information of Australians has been leaked – including medical and personal histories.

This breach comes as one of the biggest data leaks in Australian history, after personal information within a file was accidentally placed in an unsecured and public part of the Australian Red Cross blood services website.

The file’s information spans from 2010 to the present and includes details such as names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth as well as sensitive donor information such as sexual activity, drug use, weight and medical history.

The Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim will launch an investigation into the incident which the Australian Red Cross says was a ‘human error’.

But the organisation is pleading with donors not to be discouraged to continue or begin to give blood.

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Those that may have been affected by the leak received text messages from the Red Cross. Photo: Kristin Johnson

Red Cross Blood Service chief executive Shelly Park says that that although the information was available to public access since September, there is a low risk of misuse of the information in the future.

“On October 26, we learnt that a file, containing donor information, which was located on a development website, was left unsecured by a contracted third party who develops and maintains our website,” Ms Park said.

“The issue occurred due to human error. Consequently, this file was accessed by a person outside of our organisation.”

Regular blood donor Kristin Johnson says she wouldn’t think twice about donating again after the leak.

“I was notified by text and email. I don’t really think the information they hold as super sensitive. Blood type and medical history relating to such things as blood borne diseases are such things that I need to provide for my job as a paramedic so its nothing new for me” she said.

If you have any privacy concerns regarding this incident you can contact the privacy commissioner’s office for advice on 1300 363 992 or the Red Cross Blood Service on 13 95 96.

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