543 ACC privacy breaches since last year

  • 30/01/2013

The ACC is still breaching people's privacy at an average rate of more than once a day, despite being told to get its act together after the Bronwyn Pullar scandal.

A 3 News investigation has revealed the corporation has been involved in more than 500 breaches over just seven months.

The Pullar privacy scandal claimed these scalps: ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart, board chairman John Judge and two board members, among others.

But ACC Minister Judith Collins survived and last year demanded action, saying she wanted “the culture of ACC to change”.

However, figures obtained under the Official Information Act reveal that culture continues to leak like a sieve.

“She's the minister in charge,” says Labour ACC spokesman. “She's got rid of half the board. She's got rid of the CEO. Her excuses are running out.”

It all started when Ms Pullar exposed a massive breach in March last year. She was sent private details of more than 6000 ACC claimants. That's counted as one breach.

After that, ACC was ordered to keep figures. 3 News can now reveal them.

In May last year, there were 93 privacy breaches, and they've continued steadily each month, peaking at 104 in July. Through the later part of the year they continued, with around 60 to 80 a month – a total of 543 breaches since ACC was meant to get it all under control.

“I was astounded by the high number of breaches,” says Green Party MP Kevin Hague.

3 News asked ACC just how significant some of the breaches were, and got a generic answer.

“It's personal information about individuals,” says the organisation. “It's medical information. So that's the kind of information we're particularly concerned about.”

The minister says some of the breaches were minor.

“What it is, is the reality,” says Ms Collins. “[With] 1.7 million claims you're going to get mistakes made.”

The ACC privacy saga has a way to go yet. An investigation is still under way into who leaked emails between Ms Collins and former board members that revealed Ms Pullar as the whistleblower.

If you have been affected by an ACC privacy breach, contact Brook Sabin on bsabin@mediaworks.co.nz.

3 News

source: newshub archive