8 Apr 2013

EQC granted injunction over leaked email

10:29 pm on 8 April 2013

The Earthquake Commission has been granted an interim injunction to stop details of a leaked email containing details of thousands of clients from being shared.

The injunction was served on Christchurch insurance advocate Bryan Staples and a blogger known as EQC Truths on Monday.

Two weeks ago, Mr Staples the director of Earthquake Services, received in error an EQC email containing the details of 83,000 quake-damaged properties.

A blogger who writes under the name EQC Truths says he received the same email on 4 April from a disgruntled employee at the commission.

The blogger is offering to provide homeowners with details if they can prove their identities.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson says the injunction on both parties was necessary, as neither had authorised access to the information and they were actively engaged in distributing it.

Mr Simpson says the commission is determined not to add to any distress caused by the original leak.

Bryan Staples says he has since deleted the email, but about 200 people visited his company on Monday wanting access to the blogger's data and he has also received about 1000 emails.

Mr Staples says people suspect that the commission has knowingly settled with them for less than the cost of the repairs.

The Earthquake Commission says police will investigate the leaks.

Lyttelton homeowner Dennis Cundell says it is near impossible to get information on his property from EQC and is glad someone is leaking files.

Mr Cundell told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Monday his house was assessed in December 2011, but it has taken over a year to get an unfinished report that mentions minor but not the major damage.

He says all he wants is to get a comprehensive account of what the damage is and what it will cost to repair, as that would give him the choice of opting out of the EQC system and having private contractors repair his home.

Claimants have right to info - lawyer

Christchurch privacy lawyer Kathryn Dalziel believes EQC claimants have a right to the information, which she says the commission should be releasing anyway.

She told Checkpoint if claimants have difficulty getting information about their homes, they should complain to the Privacy Commissioner.

Ms Dalziel says there should be no problem with the blogger only distributing the information to the claimant it concerns.

Meanwhile, a computer industry analyst says government departments could avoid further privacy breaches if the right steps are taken.

Internet New Zealand cyber security spokesperson Barry Brailey said steps such as encryption on emails would significantly reduce the risk of further breaches.

Mr Brailey said moving large information around by email is not a good tactic.