Aussie Autofill Error Leaks World Leaders' Private Info

Passport numbers for Obama, Putin, Merkel emailed to soccer group
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2015 6:15 AM CDT
Aussie Autofill Error Leaks World Leaders' Private Info
In this photo taken Nov. 15, 2014, US President Barack Obama, right, and Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott hold koalas on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia.   (AP Photo/G20 Australia, Andrew Taylor)

You'd think if you had charge of the passport numbers of the planet's elite leaders you'd be pretty careful. But a hapless employee of Australian's immigration agency relied a little too much on autofill—and mistakenly sent an email with the passport numbers, visa info, and other personal data for President Obama, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, and at least a dozen other bigwigs in town for last year's G-20 summit to soccer tournament organizers, the Guardian reports. "The cause of the breach was human error," a letter from the immigration department to the country's privacy commissioner reads. "[Redacted] failed to check that the autofill function in Microsoft Outlook had entered the correct person's details into the email 'To' field. This led to the email being sent to the wrong person."

The erroneous email was sent to organizers of the Asian Cup tourney, who emailed the sender back as soon as they realized they had received the wrong email. Once the breach was discovered, however, an immigration agency spokeswoman suggested keeping the leak from said world leaders, "given that the risks of the breach are considered very low and the actions that have been taken to limit the further distribution of the email"; it's still not clear whether Obama and Co. were informed of the breach, the Guardian notes. And, as if the whole incident isn't embarrassing enough, Australia just last week passed much-talked-about data retention laws. "Only last week the government was calling on the Australian people to trust them with their online data, and now we find out they have disclosed the details of our world leaders," an Australian senator tells the paper. (More leak stories.)

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