Personal Information of Mistakenly Released Military Sexual Misconduct Claimants

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The company that administers the federal government’s $900 million settlement agreement with members of the Armed Forces and veterans who suffered sexual misconduct while in uniform has inadvertently released private information about dozens of applicants.

On Wednesday, Epiq Class Action Services Canada confirmed the privacy breach, after a veteran said she received an email last week containing letters intended for more than 40 other people.

Retired Master Corporal Amy Green said she was shocked when she found she had been sent names, email addresses and claim numbers, which she says is enough to access to certain parts of an applicant’s file.

“If I wanted to, I could just log in and upload anything to their file because I have their email address and their applicant ID,” said Green, who left the military in 2014 and now lives in London, Ontario. “So that I can tamper with anything.”

The Federal Court appointed Epiq to administer the settlement process after the government reached a settlement in November 2019 with plaintiffs in three overlapping class action lawsuits relating to sexual misconduct in the military.

Company says ‘human error’ is to blame

In response to a request for comment, Epiq spokeswoman Angela Hoidas said “limited information” about less than 100 of the 20,000 people who applied for compensation was sent to another claimant.

“Epiq’s investigation revealed that the inadvertent disclosure was due to human error,” Hoidas said in an email. “We quickly put new procedures in place to ensure this did not happen again and took appropriate disciplinary action.”

She went on to say that all individuals whose personal information was disclosed have been contacted and that the company “fully understands the importance of protecting personal information and sincerely regrets this error.”

Green has always expressed concern about the error, especially given the nature of the claims and the settlement agreement. She also said that despite the company’s assurances, she continued to have questions and concerns about the extent of the breach.

“It should never have happened”

“Is it a unique piece and am I the only one who received it?” Green asked. “This should never have happened. Even one is too many.”

She added that she didn’t know what to do with the email. Although some people suggested she consult a lawyer, she said she would probably take it down once she was sure what Epiq said about the limited scope of the privacy breach was true.

“I don’t want it, I don’t even want to watch it,” she said. “It makes me uncomfortable to have him.”

Toronto attorney Jonathan Ptak, who represented some of the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuits, said Wednesday that Epiq had just informed an attorney of the privacy breach involving some members of the settlement agreement.

“Privacy is of the utmost importance and this matter is being thoroughly investigated,” he said in an email. “We have been advised that urgent action is being taken by the administrator to prevent any further disclosure and ensure this does not happen again.”

Veterans Affairs Canada referred the questions to the Department of National Defence, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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