Australia Accidentally Released Obama’s Passport Info in Email Blunder

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The Australian government accidentally released the personal information of President Obama and some 30 other world leaders that were on file from the Group of 20 Summit held last winter in Brisbane.

An employee in Australia’s immigration department accidentally sent an email containing the information—including passport numbers—to an employee of the international sports committee, a report revealed on Monday.

Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the National Security Council, would not confirm the information leak but said, “We are looking into the incident, and we will take follow-up action to ensure the president’s privacy and security as appropriate.”

Australian officials said that the immigration department’s autofill feature added addresses for recipients who shouldn’t have received the emails and that the mistake was realized within ten minutes from its sending. The message was quickly deleted.

The sports committee also reported that the email it received was not copied or forwarded to anyone other than the original recipient.

The Australian government insisted that the level of import of the security breach was very low and that this was “an isolated example of human error.”

The release of the information, though, reveals just how easy it is to send information that should be screened behind a wall of security.

As an example of how easy it is to accidentally release sensitive information that shouldn’t be made public, when former Florida Governor Jeb Bush went to release several years worth of emails as a bow to campaign transparency, he accidentally included social security numbers, phone numbers, and private medical information.

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