Writing on a computer keyboard [Illustrative].
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Justice Ministry’s Law and Information Technology Department said Tuesday it has discovered some 20,000 violations of citizens’ online privacy by a wide range of companies, including law firms and psychology clinics.
Violators who post their customers’ or clients’ private information online in an unguarded manner have been fined as much as NIS 25,000.
“We are talking about violating the law… where what should be protected sensitive data is exposed to the world and to people who are not authorized to see it. This violates the right to privacy and can cause concrete damage,” Limor Schmerling- Mageznick, the head of the department known as RAMOT, told The Jerusalem Post.
The sensitive information, she said, could include highly personal medical information, psychological diagnoses and social worker evaluations of children.
“We do routine checks online to see if there is private information that shouldn’t be there. We have found lots of this phenomena,” Schmerling-Mageznick said.
Unlike hacked data, which requires investment of substantial time and resources to get a person’s personal data, the 20,000 violations were overwhelmingly simple cases in which small- to medium- sized companies were negligently posting private information online without thinking through the consequences or investing in information security.
“Imagine having a company with no door, no lock and no guard,” Schmerling-Mageznick said, explaining the depth of the absence of information security.
“The Internet was built in good faith as an open world without borders meant to lead to positive things,” she said. “But the way it was built, people did not think beforehand about the need for protection. People need to know they need protection [for their clients’ information] and they need to invest time and resources – otherwise the harm can be significant.”
RAMOT is working with the Knesset to update the country’s regulations for guarding privacy so that legislative protections on the issue are also strengthened.