U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has ordered an urgent investigation into a data breach involving the email addresses and pictures of Afghan interpreters who worked with British forces.
The BBC reported Monday that more than 250 people seeking to relocate to the U.K. were mistakenly copied into an email from the U.K. Ministry of Defense, inadvertently revealing their details. In some cases, a photo was attached to the email addresses.
Since the Taliban’s swift victory, Afghan interpreters who previously worked for the British Armed Forces have been forced to hide fearing reprisals.
Though the U.K. offered refuge to most interpreters and their families under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme, the last U.K. plane flying people out of Kabul left on September 4. The then-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admitted afterward the U.K. government doesn’t know how many people eligible to come to Britain have been left behind.
In a statement, an MoD spokesperson confirmed an investigation has been launched and apologized for the data breach.
“An investigation has been launched into a data breach of information from the Afghan Relocations Assistance Policy team,“ the spokesperson said. „We apologize to everyone impacted by this breach and are working hard to ensure it does not happen again.
“The Ministry of Defense takes its information and data handling responsibilities very seriously,“ they added.
Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey said: “We told these Afghans interpreters we would keep them safe, instead this breach has needlessly put lives at risk. The priority now is to urgently step up efforts to get these Afghans safely to the U.K.“
“This is the second major data breach from the MoD this year, after sensitive documents were discovered at a bus stop in Kent in June,“ Healey added.
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