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August 20, 2012

ICO to look at children’s data leak following hack on website

Details of personalities and even mental illness were posted online for all to see

By Steve Evans

Personal information about thousands of children, some of them related to public figures, has been posted online following an alleged hack.

The information appeared on the website of the Independent Schools Guide, which provides advice for parents looking for suitable schools to send their children to. Parents provide details about their children which the service then uses to match them to appropriate schools.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the compromised database contained not only names of children but also personal sensitive information about their personality and achievements.

In some cases details of illness and learning difficulties were also exposed, including information on Asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia and dyspraxia.

In total details of 1,367 children were exposed. The information was even visible in Google searches, it is alleged.

The Telegraph report goes on to state that a former cabinet minister, a pop star, senior military personnel, Foreign Office officials and a television actor all had family details exposed.

The service is provided by a company called Gabbitas, which is owned by outsourcing firm Prospects Services. In a statement the company said the information had appeared online after the database was hacked. It has removed the information from the site and asked the police to investigate.

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It told the Telegraph it was "deeply concerned" by the incident and apologised to affected parents and children. The company added that it had made moves since the breach was discovered to secure the website.

However it is likely Gabbitas will still face an ICO investigation. "We will be making inquiries into the circumstances of any potential breach of the Data Protection Act before deciding what action, if any, needs to be taken," the UK data protection watchdog said in a statement.

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