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article imageEmail auto-complete blunder leaks details of world leaders

By James Walker     Mar 30, 2015 in Technology
A mistake caused by auto-complete technology while sending an email resulted in the personal details of the world's leaders who attended the G20 summit last year being erroneously revealed and sent to the wrong person.
The mistake was caused by Microsoft Outlook's "autofill" feature and resulted in the details of leaders including U.S. president Barack Obama, Russian president Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron being sent to the organisers of an international soccer tournament held in Australia earlier this year.
The incident happened on November 7th last year just before the start of the G20 summit that the leaders attended in Brisbane, Australia. The Guardian obtained details from an email sent to the Australian privacy commissioner after the incident. The email explains that the cause was "human error."
The inept Outlook user reported his mistake to his superiors. Surprisingly, the nations involved were not informed of the leak. The Asian Cup Local Organising Committee assured that the email had not been forwarded anywhere and the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection decided to cover the leak up rather than investigate further.
The director of the visa services division explained in the email obtained by the Guardian: "Given that the risks of the breach are considered very low and the actions that have been taken to limit the further distribution of the e-mail, I do not consider it necessary to notify the clients of the breach."
Details revealed included passport numbers, visa details and other personal identification. The data may contravene privacy law in some of the countries affected as the nations were not informed immediately after the breach.
Australia's deputy opposition leader, Tanya Plibersek, has called on Tony Abbott to explain why the world leaders were not notified, saying that the decision not to inform them "must be explained."
Last year, the Guardian also revealed that Australia's immigration department had disclosed the details of 10,000 asylum seekers in a file on its website. The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said "This is another serious gaffe by an incompetent government."
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