A man from Kent, England, has been prosecuted under the UK's Data Protection Act for leaking sensitive police information on Twitter.
William Godfrey, 30, of Bethersden, tweeted the personal details of a vulnerable adult after obtaining a USB stick belonging to his former partner, a probationary officer, containing the private information. The flash drive stored the individual's name, address, and details of their health and sex life.
Godfrey also emailed the UK Information Commissioner's Office "threatening to publish a 40-page document containing personal data," including those of a sexual offence victim, according to the ICO. He was also involved in a discussion on Twitter in which another user warned him that his actions were against the law.
It was later discovered that, using a second Twitter account, Godfrey had tweeted details about a named individual who had been searched by Surrey Police.
The ICO had asked Godfrey not to publish any information, and Surrey officers arranged to collect the USB stick from Godfrey, but he failed to show up as planned. The plod then resorted to filing a High Court injunction in London to make him return the data.
Godfrey appeared before Maidstone Crown Court yesterday, where he admitted to two offences of unlawfully disclosing personal data.
He was given a 12-month conditional discharge, meaning he will not be punished unless he breaks the law again within a year. He was also ordered to pay £150 in costs, and a £15 victim surcharge.
ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said in a statement: "People should always be careful about what they share on social media, both about themselves and others. But when it's sensitive and confidential personal information that they have no right to see or possess in the first place, then we will not hesitate to take action to protect people's rights.
"Surrey Police has also signed an undertaking to improve its procedures as a result of this case, and we are satisfied that many of our recommendations have already been taken on board." ®
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