In a recent court appearance, Barry Young, a 56-year-old man, has been denied bail after being arrested for allegedly leaking substantial amounts of Te Whatu Ora vaccination data online. Facing charges of dishonestly accessing Te Whatu Ora databases, Young appeared in Wellington District Court where he did not enter a plea.
Te Whatu Ora Chief Executive Margie Apa revealed that Young, a former staff member, downloaded and published vaccine-related information on an overseas website. While ongoing analysis has not found personally identifiable information, Apa expressed concern about Young's apparent attempt to spread “misinformation”.
The incident came to light after Te Whatu Ora discovered the breach on Thursday. Apa reassured the public that efforts are underway to safeguard information, emphasizing that vaccination remains safe and effective. An Employment Relations Authority injunction is preventing the data from being published elsewhere, and a police complaint has been filed.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon confirmed that the released data was anonymized, not specific to individuals. Despite the concerning nature of the breach, there is “no evidence” to support claims that vaccination is responsible for excess mortality in New Zealand.
The incident has raised broader concerns about the security of health databases and the need for stringent measures to protect sensitive information. Authorities are expected to conduct a thorough investigation to identify any learnings from the breach and prevent similar incidents in the future.