IT contractor accused of leaking names on Net blames police body

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2006, 12:00am

The IT contractor accused of leaking confidential information about 20,000 people who filed complaints against the police has hit back at the Independent Police Complaints Council, saying it was responsible for the blunder.

Contractor EDPS also said yesterday it was not banned from subcontracting its work, contradicting the council in its criticism of the company.

The leak was reported by the South China Morning Post this month. The safety of about 20,000 people who complained about the police over the past decade may have been jeopardised by the blunder after their names, addresses and identity card numbers became available on the internet.

The company said the council had mistakenly released the data to a subcontractor working for EDPS in early 2004. The subcontractor had only requested 'dummy data' from the council.

The company said that instead, a council staff member stored the confidential files, unencrypted, on a compact disc and told the subcontractor to collect it. It said the council did not inform EDPS or the subcontractor that the data it sent was authentic.

The council's chairman, Ronny Wong Fook-hum, has told legislators that EDPS and Kirren Heung Yam-ling, a former EDPS employee and the subcontractor, were responsible for placing the file on an internet server without password protection.

EDPS director Poon Chung-yin made the allegations yesterday in an interview with the Post.

The IPCC said last night its inquiry into the incident should be completed next week and would form the basis of any decision on handling the incident.

Mr Wong also said the watchdog was aware of the contractor's claims and was seeking more information, but he declined to comment further on the claims.

A spokeswoman for the council said it was seeking legal advice. She also said no decision had been made on whether the investigation report would be made public.

The chairman of the Legislative Council's security panel, James To Kun-sun, said the company's allegations, if true, would undermine public trust in the council.

'How could the public trust [the IPCC] to monitor the Complaints Against Police Office if their own contractor and data management was so poor?' he said, adding that part of the blame must also fall on the subcontractor.

'Putting the file on the internet was just a very suspect procedure. Even if the data was fictional it would still be very shocking and cause a lot of concern if people came across it on the internet.'