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Home Office apologises for breaching ‘settled status’ data of EU citizens

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LONDON — The UK government has apologised to hundreds of EU citizens applying for settled status before Brexit after accidentally revealing their personal details in a likely breach of the Data Protection Act.

The department said an “administrative error” was to blame for it sending an email which revealed 240 personal email addresses, and it could now be forced to apologise in parliament.

In a statement, a spokesperson apologised for the breach and said it had taken steps to ensure it would not be repeated.

The Home Office sent an email on Sunday April 7 to applicants who had struggled with technical problems asking them to resubmit their application data.

But it did not use the “blind CC” box, meaning it revealed the email addresses of every recipient.

It later emailed recipients saying: “The deletion of the email you received from us on 7 April 2019 would be greatly appreciated.”

The Home Office apology email:

An email sent by the Home Office apologising for the data breach.
Home Office

The settled status scheme, which was rolled out in March, allows EU citizens living in the UK to apply to remain permanently after Brexit. It was widely criticised in the run-up to the launch by campaign groups who said many users found it difficult to use.

Theresa May’s government has already apologised after a similar data breach saw the emails of 500 members of the Windrush generation leaked. The Home Office was required to make an apology in parliament.

A Home Office spokesman said: “In communicating with a small group of applicants, an administrative error was made which meant other applicants’ email addresses could be seen.

“As soon as the error was identified, we apologised personally to the 240 applicants affected and have improved our systems and procedures to stop this occurring again.”

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