Ofcom tackles mass data breach of TV company information | Media | The Guardian
Ex-employee offered a hoard of potentially sensitive information about rival TV companies to his new employer, who is a major broadcaster

is facing up to the biggest data breach in its history after a former employee offered a hoard of potentially sensitive information on TV companies to his new employer, a major broadcaster.

The media regulator has sent out letters to dozens of TV companies that hold an Ofcom licence to broadcast in the UK explaining the data breach.

“On 26 February we became aware of an incident involving the misuse of third-party data by a former Ofcom employee,” said a spokesman for Ofcom. “This was a breach of the former employee’s statutory duty under the Communications Act and a breach of the contract with Ofcom.”

One person with knowledge of the letter said that the incident involved the former Ofcom staffer downloading data – possibly as much as six years of data provided by TV broadcasters to the regulator – before leaving the company.

That information was then at some point offered to the ex-staffer’s new employer, known to be a TV broadcaster, potentially to give insight and a competitive edge over rivals.

It is understood that senior management at the broadcaster did not exploit the information, but instead alerted Ofcom.

“Ofcom takes the protection of data extremely seriously, and we are very disappointed that a former employee has chosen to act in this manner,” said the spokesman. “The extent of the disclosure was limited and has been contained, and we have taken urgent steps to inform all parties.”