MSD in another privacy blunder

An IT portal had to be shut down by the Ministry of Social Development on Tuesday evening after a privacy error.

A social service provider was able to view another provider's folder in a new IT system.

"Last night I was advised by MSD about a technical issue with the portal where providers submit individual client level data," Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said on Wednesday afternoon.

While the error could have potentially disclosed client data, Ms Tolley says no private information on clients was available in the folder.

"We were lucky that it was an empty folder, and that someone alerted us," Ms Tolley said.

"We've contacted all providers today and said don't give us any information, and we're shutting this portal down and going back to the drawing board, and designing a new system."

Tuesday evening's error comes in the wake of a number of privacy concerns raised by NGOs about the new system.

From July 1, MSD will require social service providers to collect and provide individual client level data including demographic information, information about dependants and details of services accessed.

According to the minister, only 10 providers have uploaded client level data to the Department of Internal Affairs portal so far out of the 136 who have been asked to.

Specialist sexual violence services are exempt from providing the data for 12 months, while further preparations are made.

At a protest outside Parliament last month, social service providers including Women's Refuge voiced their opposition to the new system.

They said vulnerable people might be worried about their details falling into the wrong hands, and this could stop them from seeking help.

MSD says the data collection is intended to ensure that funding is going to the right place.