A HUGE Cabinet Office blunder has seen the home and work addresses of hundreds of celebrities, politicians and emergency service worked posted online..
"The information has been deleted as soon as possible".
Director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, also criticized the government on Twitter and said: "Government doesn't have a basic grip on data protection & can't stick by its own rules".
Several commentators have speculated that the government could face legal action from the people whose addresses were published, as well as from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
While the cabinet office has yet to identify the root cause of the data breach, United Kingdom -based security expert Kevin Beaumont said one likely explanation was that someone tried to toggle an Excel column containing the home addresses to "hidden" before exporting the spreadsheet to CSV format, not realizing that hidden columns get included in any such export.
A member of the public contacted the Guardian after downloading the spreadsheet from the government website page where the 2020 new year honours list was posted.
"We have reported the matter to the ICO and are contacting all those affected directly".
Numerous more than a dozen MoD employees and senior counter-terrorism officers who received honours had their home addresses revealed, along with countless others who may believe the disclosure has put them in a vulnerable position. A Cabinet Office spokesperson apologised for the error and said it had reported itself to the Information Commissioner's Office.
He was awarded the honour for contributions to "public and political service" despite being the architect of welfare reforms that have ruined the lives of thousands of disabled people.
The leaked addresses include those of Sir Elton John and former director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders.
Lord Kerslake, who was head of the civil service between 2012 and 2014, has called for an "urgent investigation".
The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 has enabled law enforcement agencies such as the ICO to introduce law enforcement regulations.
It means breaches can result in the ICO issuing penalties equivalent of up to 4% of annual global turnover or £17m - whichever is greater. The department later handed out an intention to fine the hotel chain Marriott International £99m after it admitted the guest records of around 339 million people had been accessed.
"I think for the celebrities and other people involved, who are much more important than myself, it certainly is worrying", Ms McMullan said.