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Immigration Transparency Data

Volume 572: debated on Thursday 12 December 2013

The Government are committed to openness and transparency to enable the public to hold the Government and other public bodies to account. This Government have made more data available than ever before. The Home Office contributes to that agenda by regularly releasing information about its work, spend and outcomes in a publicly accessible and open format.

This includes information about the immigration family returns process on our website. Unfortunately between 15 and 28 October 2013 some personal data were available on the Home Office website as part of a spreadsheet alongside the regular data set, in error. This was identified by Home Office officials on 28 October 2013 and the personal information was removed immediately. The personal data related to the names of 1,598 main applicants in the family returns process, their date of birth and limited details about their immigration case type and status. It did not include personal addresses or financial information.

The Department has taken steps to establish whether the data were viewed or accessed outside of the Home Office. That analysis suggests there were fewer than 30 visits to the relevant webpage. It has not been possible to ascertain whether those who visited the webpage went on to open the data sheet in question or accessed the part of the data sheet which contained the personal information.

The Home Office has notified the Information Commissioner’s Office and is undertaking an internal investigation. Measures have been put in place to prevent a recurrence of the error and verify that no similar error has previously taken place.

Our official assessment is that the risk to those whose personal information was accessible for the period is low. However, I have instructed my officials to take steps to notify those individuals concerned, where it is possible and appropriate to do so.