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Housing association reprimanded for exposing personal information on online portal

We have issued a reprimand to Clyde Valley Housing Association in Lanarkshire after personal information was accessible to other residents on an online customer portal. 

On the first day the portal launched in 2022, a resident discovered they could access documents related to anti-social behaviour cases and view personal information about other residents, including names, addresses and dates of birth. 

The resident called a customer service advisor at Clyde Valley Housing Association to flag the breach, but their concerns were not escalated, and the personal information remained accessible for five days. 

Following a mass email to residents promoting the portal, four more residents reported the same breach, and the new system was suspended. 

Our investigation found that the housing association failed to test the portal appropriately before it went live and staff were not clear on the procedure to escalate a data breach. 

Jenny Brotchie, Regional Manager for Scotland at the ICO, said:

“While new digital products and services can improve the experience for customers, these must not come at the cost of the security of personal information. This breach was the result of a clear oversight by Clyde Valley Housing Association when preparing to launch its new customer portal.

“We expect all organisations to ensure they have appropriate security measures in place when launching new products and have tested them thoroughly with data protection in mind, as well as ensuring staff are appropriately trained. We will take action when people’s personal information is not protected.”   

We recommended that Clyde Valley Housing Association should take steps ensure its compliance with data protection law, including:

  • Ensuring rigorous testing is undertaken that focuses on data protection prior to the rollout of a portal in the future 
  • Conducting a review of data protection training to ensure that training provided is relevant to, and adequate for, the staff members receiving it.

We previously issued a blog reminding housing organisations of their obligations under data protection law and providing practical steps to support them to process and share residents’ personal information lawfully.

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