Covid-19 data breach: FM ‘doesn’t know’ when ministers first told

Covid-19 data breach: FM ‘doesn’t know’ when ministers first told

A lab technician is holding a container of test tubes containing coronavirus test samples

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Prime Minister Mark Drakeford said he didn’t know when the Welsh government was first notified of a data breach involving 18,000 people who tested positive for the coronavirus.

He has received apologies for the Wales Public Health (PHW) violation, which he saw details posted on a public website.

PHW on Monday said the Welsh government was notified on 2 September.

Mr. Drakeford said the incident was “serious” and that he himself first learned of it on Monday.

Details of more than 18,000 people, including initials, date of birth, geographic area and gender, were posted on the PHW website at 2:00 pm on August 30th.

It wasn’t removed until 09:55 the next morning. PHW revealed the violation to the public in a statement Monday.

At the Senedd on Tuesday, the leader of the Welsh conservative group Paul Davies asked Mr Drakeford to apologize to those affected.

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Image caption

The information was online for 20 hours before it was removed

Mr. Drakeford, in response, said: “I learned about this data breach yesterday, and I learned about it as a result of the Public Health Wales statement.”

“It’s a serious matter when data regulations aren’t being followed properly.”

He said PHW was right to apologize to those concerned.

“Thankfully … the breach lasted less than a day and initial investigations suggest that no damage was done as a result, but it’s luck rather than anything else.”

Mr Drakeford said it was right that PHW had initiated an investigation and informed the Information Commissioner.

‘I know when I was informed’

But pressed by Tory member Senedd Andrew RT Davies when the Welsh government was informed and as a minister first to be informed, Drakeford said he did not know.

“I gave an answer, which was to my knowledge,” he said.

“I know when I was informed. I don’t know the answer to those other questions nor would I expect to know them just by being here in the room.

“We will discover those answers, of course, and I am very happy to communicate them to the member.”

Mr. Davies later tweeted that he found the answer “astounding”.

“For a man who is supposed to ‘through the details’ not knowing this information is ridiculous,” he added.

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