The UK’s Home Office has issued an apology to hundreds of EU citizens after accidentally sharing their private email addresses.
All victims were applying for “settled status” in the UK as part of a new program launched last June. EU citizens who have been in the UK for a minimum of five years are able to receive settled status, a designation that would let them live and work there after Brexit. The Home Office reports more than 400,000 EU nationals have applied; this incident affects 240 of them.
On April 7, the Home Office sent an email to some applications requesting they resend information – but it didn’t check “BCC,” exposing contact info for applicants in the email.
Upon recognizing the mistake, the Home Office sent an email apologizing to affected applicants and requesting they delete the original email. It also said it had improved systems to prevent a similar mistake from happening in the future. Still, some critics say the process to obtain settled status has proved tedious; others express distrust in the Home Office’s ability to handle data.
“We’ve already heard far too many cases of EU citizens facing technical problems or being wrongly refused,” said Ed Davey, home affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, to the Financial Times. “Now 240 have had their privacy compromised.”
This is the second time Home Office has apologized for data misuse in recent days. Earlier this week, it confirmed people and organizations listed as having interest in the Windrush scandal compensation scheme were sent emails with email addresses of other interested parties.
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