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Saturday 29.02.2020 | Name days:

State Revenue Service employees’ «glances» at sensitive files and symbolic penalties

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information, leak,taxes, VID, important, recommendedEmployees of Latvia’s State Revenue Service (VID) have been punished multiple times for leaking sensitive data in the past. People received insignificant disciplinary penalties while the leaked information may have ended up in the hands of less than honest people. Why is it that state security matters protected as well as empty hockey gates and who should be held responsible?

BNN has taken notice of yet another case when Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has punished VID officials caught illegally acquiring information from systems. On 14 November it was reported that SRS employees driven by personal motives had gone through information that was not necessary to perform their duties. The two VID officials in question are inspectors Olga Loginova and Linda Burova-Bērziņa, as confirmed by VID. The penalty for illegally accessing sensitive information – 70 and 80 euros respectively.

BNN contacted VID consultant for communication and public relations Andrejs Vaivars and asked him to comment on this situation. He said: «Information was accessed, not leaked. These people had accessed files not related to their duties. The two employees did pass the information to third parties.»

When asked if authorities are aware which information the two employees had accessed, Vaivars said he knows which information was accessed. He added, however, that it is restricted access information.

VID employee claims this case cannot be classified as information leak – if an employee accesses information not necessary for his or her duties. Vaivars is certain – VID Internal Security Office has made sure the two employees do not pass information to anyone.

In a telephone conversation, Vaivars said VID has warned its employees multiple times that such behaviour is unacceptable.

In spite of the fact that employees’ posts and duties, it is not like there is no way to access files of colleagues from other departments, says VID consultant for communication and public relations affairs. «Access is not restricted completely,» said Vaivars.

This is not the first case when VID applies disciplinary penalty on an official instead of firing them for accessing sensitive information.

This suggests the service should have performed changes for internal supervision a long time ago. People have to understand that problems with the service are considered a state internal security matter. If a case is declared information leak, it means VID employees have acquired information illegally. Is the desire of officials to glance at files they are not allowed to access the reason for the lack of security. If so, this does not promote confidence in residents’ mind that the accessed information was not passed on to someone else. Is this why the two employees were fined 70 and 80 euros and were allowed to keep their jobs?

When asked about the penalty, KNAB said: «When deciding on the penalty, KNAB referred to Latvian Code of Administrative Penalties, including the type of violation, the personality of the perpetrator, their degree of guilt, monetary state, as well as extenuating circumstances.»

«Security measures to ensure protection of information at VID should be as normal as hygiene»

In an interview to BNN, State Auditor Elita Krūmiņa commented on the situation at VID, stressing that ensuring data protection is the duty of each institution’s head. «Internal control should be organized in a way to make sure no information leak is possible.»

Security measures for data protection should be as normal as hygiene at VID. Activities should be self-explanatory because databases contain very sensitive information, such as tax audits, tax payment history, debts, tax transfer amounts, etc. The State Audit adds that VID pops up in discussions every year; the service holds in its hands an enormous resource that should be handled with utmost care.

Krūmiņa adds that VID’s approach to such matters has also been discussed. The auditor says it is vital to organize this sector. Discussions have also touched upon the topic of security audits and how often they should be performed. This is not about bureaucracy – it is an important tool to help protect data from possible risks, the State Audit stresses.

It is no less important to properly supervise people with access to sensitive information. «There are multiple ways the institution can ensure people only have access to the information they need to perform their duties. It is also possible to monitor access to sensitive information.»

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  1. Zerry says:

    That is so small penalty that those ladies could cheers to the system

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