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EQC cleared to resume limited functions

Published: 6:13PM Tuesday April 02, 2013 Source: ONE News

The Earthquake Commission has been cleared to return to restricted business, with the Government saying all necessary steps are being taken to protect customer privacy.

The Government last Thursday ordered the EQC to shut down all its outgoing IT systems after an email was sent containing the personal details of claimants, including names and bank account details.

The email contained a spreadsheet with 2200 names and information about those people, including money owed in stopped cheques, totalling around $23 million.

Earlier the organisation admitted unintentionally releasing the details of all 80,000 claimants in its Canterbury Home Repair Programme.

EQC staff worked over Easter weekend with a team from the office of the Government Chief Information Officer to deal with issues that lead to the information leaks.

Gerry Brownlee, the Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission, says he has today given the go ahead for EQC's claims settlement system and functions that allow the Commission to pay contractors in the Canterbury Home Repair Programme to resume.

"Other functions will return progressively over the days ahead, subject to EQC and the Government Chief Information Officer's confirmation that systems to protect privacy are appropriate and robust," Brownlee said in a statement.

In the meantime an internal audit is taking place with all staff reviewing locally stored files and protecting material as necessary, he said.

EQC is also identifying how best to manage the large spreadsheets required to document its work programme, Brownlee said.

It is also working with professional third parties such as private insurers and contractors on how to ensure EQC data is transferred in a manner that protects privacy, he said.

Until these things are done and normal functions are returned, claims processing will be delayed, including claims payments, the Minister said.

Online forms, such as the query form, Official Information Act request form, and the complaints form are down in the meantime.

And EQC staff cannot email customers, though customers can email them, and emails will be addressed by other means or as soon as full functionality is resumed, the Minister said.