Afghanistan: Ministry of Defence not aware of any harm following data breaches

The Ministry of Defence has said it is “not aware anyone has come to harm” as a result of data breaches involving the email addresses of Afghan interpreters who worked for British forces.

The MoD launched an inquiry after more than 300 people hoping to relocate to the UK were mistakenly visibly copied into an email from the department.

The inquiry – now complete – blamed the mistakes on human error.

However, it also said better training would have prevented the breach.

Labour’s shadow defense secretary John Healey said: “This is the fifth serious data breach in nine months and it’s time the defense secretary got his house in order.

“This is a basic issue of competence for this government… until the defense secretary stops these leaks our service personnel will rightly be wondering whether the MoD has their back.”

In a written statement, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that more than 7,000 Afghan nationals, including family members, who worked for the UK government in Afghanistan, had been successfully relocated to the UK.

He added that fewer than 200 eligible people now remain in Afghanistan and that the government was working “with urgency” to help relocate them.

The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) was launched to help people who might be under threat from the new Taliban government due to their work supporting the UK government in Afghanistan.

The data breaches occurred when defense staff emailed people covered by Arap but used the ‘carbon copy’ – or cc – button instead of the ‘blind carbon copy field to anonymize the recipients.

There were a total of three breaches occurring on 7, 13, and 20 September.

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