A staff member sent confidential information to the wrong person
The New Zealand Law Society has acknowledged that a staff member sent confidential information to the wrong person and has apologised for the privacy breach.
The staff member intended to email a colleague, but sent the email to someone else, whose name is similar, because of the “auto fill” feature. The email contained information from a legal practitioner about his own conduct alleged to amount to sexual harassment or bullying. The case is subject to a court order preventing publication of more details.
“This error has caused additional and unnecessary stress for those whose information was disclosed. The Law Society was entrusted with information that it should have been able to properly protect and we fell short of our internal standards. We are profoundly sorry for this unacceptable mistake,” said Law Society President Kathryn Beck.
Upon learning of the mistake, the Law Society repeatedly tried to contact the recipient, who did not initially respond. All parties involved were also notified of the breach, which was also reported to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
The Law Society sought an injunction on publication of the email’s contents, which it said was to protect the confidentiality of the information.
The Law Society said that accepts that the incident raises questions about how it handles confidential information. It claimed that it has reviewed processes and told staff to follow the processes in place at all times.
“Any breach of privacy undermines the integrity of an organisation. This comes at a time where questions are being asked about our organisation’s systems and processes,” Beck said. “We must provide the highest standard of care in regard to private information. We did not do that on this occasion.”