The UK Information Commissioner\u2019s Office (ICO) has warned of the potential risks to life posed by data breaches exposing the personally identifiable information (PII) of domestic abuse victims. The data privacy regulator urged organizations handling the PII of domestic abuse victims to take responsibility for training their staff and putting appropriate systems in place to avoid such incidents.\n\nThe ICO has reprimanded seven organizations in the past 14 months for data breaches affecting victims of domestic abuse, including four cases of organizations revealing the safe addresses of victims to their alleged abuser and the disclosure of the home address of two adopted children to their birth father, who was in prison on three counts of raping their mother.\n\nOrganisations involved include a law firm, a housing association, a National Health Service trust, a government department, local councils, and a police service. Root causes for the breaches vary, but common themes are a lack of staff training and failure to have robust procedures in place to handle personal information safely, the ICO said.\n\nOrganizations should do \u201ceverything necessary\u201d to protect personal information\n\n\u201cThese families reached out for help to escape unimaginable violence, to protect them from harm, and to seek support to move forward from dangerous situations,\u201d said John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner. \u201cThe very people that they trusted to help, exposed them to further risk.\u201d\n\nThis is a pattern that must stop, and organizations should be doing everything necessary to protect the personal information in their care, Edwards added. \u201cThe reprimands issued in the past year make clear that mistakes were made and that organizations must resolve the issues that lead to these breaches in the first place.\u201d\n\nThe basics of thorough training and restricting access to information can reduce the risk of even greater harm, Edwards said. \u201cProtecting the information rights of victims of domestic abuse is a priority area for my office, and we will be providing further support and advice to help keep people safe.\u201d\n\nIf an organization works with people experiencing domestic abuse, it should make sure relevant staff know how to handle their data with extra care and that it is able to accommodate any requests for privacy, the ICO said. This could include specific training, ensuring staff include information about data handling on handovers, and regularly reminding staff of data security processes, the regulator added.\n\nIn May, the ICO called for \u201cserious improvements\u201d to data protection processes for organizations handling information on HIV sufferers, after reprimanding an NHS body in relation to a data breach.