Ontario’s Privacy Commission looking into leak of confidential email detailing Fire Chief firing

By David Judd

ONTARIO’S Information and Privacy Commission is looking into the accidental leak of a confidential Norfolk County e-mail that detailed the firing of Port Dover Fire Chief Gary Spragg.
County CAO David Cribbs wrote the e-mail, which was intended for the eyes of senior administrators only.
But Mr. Cribbs accidentally mailed it to all county employees.
Although the message was quickly deleted from the county’s e-mail system, some employees forwarded it to private e-mail accounts.
At least one employee disseminated the e-mail, which found its way to the media.
The clerk’s office notified the Information and Privacy Commission about a privacy issue and a privacy breach, Clerk Andy Grozelle wrote in a Sept. 7 memo to county council, which was released last Tuesday.
The privacy issue concerned an error by Mr. Cribbs that resulted in county staff receiving details of Chief Spragg’s firing.
The privacy breach concerned staff’s dissemination of the e-mail to the public.
If county staff receive e-mails that they think might be confidential, they should contact Norfolk’s supervisor of information and seek advice.
In his memo to council, Mr. Grozelle wrote that he had no significant concerns about Norfolk’s policies or technology, which are more robust than might be expected in a municipality of its size.
“The main thing the (commission) looks for in our reporting is whether appropriate policies and processes are in place. The intent being to prevent similar occurrences in the future,” Mr. Grozelle wrote.
The leak would have been more serious if it had contained personal information such as a Social Insurance Number, date of birth, address or credit card information that could have led to identify theft or fraud, Mr. Grozelle wrote.
Announcing a termination is not automatically personal and commonly occurs in Canadian municipalities, he wrote.
Mr. Grozelle’s memo stated: “It is important to highlight that some issues such as accidentally sending an e-mail to the wrong account are very much a problem of the nature of e-mail exchanges.
“No one has been able to create a ‘magic bullet’ to address these types of human errors; all we can do is be prepared for them when they do occur.”

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