18 Aug 2020

Megan Woods discusses isolation facility privacy breach

From Checkpoint, 5:27 pm on 18 August 2020

The minister in charge of managed isolation says she's confident the right processes were followed after a privacy breach at one of the facilities.

In a statement, MBIE said a security guard posted an image of a list of people staying at the Sheraton Four Points managed isolation facility to Snapchat on 15 August.

"Included in the image was a printed list containing the names, room numbers and arrival and departure dates of 27 returnees staying at the facility, along with the names and room numbers of five staff members," Megan Main, deputy chief executive for managed isolation and quarantine, said.

MBIE said the image was removed around midday after agencies became aware of the breach and identified the source.

"The guard has advised that the image was posted to a private group, and First Security have confirmed the image has been deleted from their phone," MBIE said.

"The investigation into this incident has established the guard had legitimate access to the list, as part of their role processing and monitoring returnees going outside the building for exercise or other reasons.

"The actions of this person were unacceptable, and we sincerely apologise to those people whose privacy was breached. We have contacted all of those affected to inform them of the incident."

MBIE said the guard has been removed from duty at any managed isolation facility and he is the subject of an employment investigation.

"We have expressed our concerns about this incident to the employer," MBIE said.

"The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has been notified and staff have been reminded of their obligations around the importance of protecting returnees' private information, and around filming, recording and sharing information relating to their work in MIQ."

The minister in charge of managed isolation, Megan Woods, said she was confident all the right processes have been followed and are well underway.

Woods said she wasn't keeping it from the public since she found out about the incident over the weekend.

"It was an operational issue that was being dealt with by MBIE, as it well should be, I was confident that all the people who's privacy had been affected had been contacted."

She said the behaviour of the guard was well below what's expected. 

First Security has declined to be interviewed tonight but in a statement says it is disappointed with the 'misguided actions of one individual.'

It says it apologises to those affected and says a full investigation is underway.

Gary Morrison is the chief executive of the NZ Security Association and joins Lisa Owen to discuss the issue.