A Kent man who posted sensitive police information on Twitter has appeared in court after he admitted breaking the Data Protection Act.
William Godfrey, 30, of Bull Lane, Bethersden, had previously been in a relationship with a probationary officer, and came into possession of a USB stick containing the data. In July 2016, he tweeted the name and address of a vulnerable adult, along with details of their health and sexual life, to the accounts of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Surrey Police.
That same day, he emailed the ICO threatening to publish a 40-page document containing personal data, which included the details of a victim of a sexual offence, and became involved in a Twitter exchange with an independent user who saw his tweet and warned him that he was breaking the law.
It later emerged that a separate account, operated by Godfrey, had tweeted Surrey Police two days earlier, disclosing the details of one named individual and the fact that they had been searched by police in relation to an offence.
The ICO contacted him to ask him not to publish the material. Godfrey later failed to attend a meeting to hand over the USB stick and Surrey Police eventually had to take out an injunction to retrieve it.
Godfrey admitted two offences of unlawfully disclosing personal data in breach of s55 of the Data Protection Act when he appeared at Maidstone Crown Court, on Wednesday 17 January 2018.
He was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge, in part because he had been placed on stringent bail conditions, including an electronic tag, before the hearing. He was also ordered to pay £150 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
ICO Head of Enforcement Steve Eckersley said:
“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.”