SLO County again sends errant email
September 16, 2015
Less than two months after San Luis Obispo County officials seemingly fixed the problem, another county email errantly went out to a group of subscribers who monitor developments and organize cleanups at local beaches.
In July, a county social services worker forwarded an email to a county list called Beach Monitoring. The email contained an Arroyo Grande woman’s medical records, as well as her birth date, address and social security number.
Kevin Rice, a local activist who subscribes to the Beach Monitoring list, said multiple county departments had regularly inadvertently sent confidential information in emails to everyone on the Beach Monitoring list. After Rice raised the issue with the local media, Social Services Director Lee Collins threatened Rice with prosecution for disclosing private information and forwarded the case to the district attorney’s office.
Collins also sent an email to the Beach Monitoring list stating the problem of mistakenly forwarding emails had been investigated and resolved.
But last week, a county health administrative assistant included the Beach Monitoring list in an email sent to a state Department of Health Care Services employee. The email did not contain confidential information.
When asked why the county was continuing to mistakenly send emails to the Beach Monitoring list, Collins said he is not the director of the county health department and does not speak on their behalf.
County Health Agency Director Jeff Hamm responded to a CalCoastNews email inquiry by saying the health department thought the problem was resolved, but it turned out not to be the case. County health has since been working with the IT department to solve the problem, Hamm wrote.
“We believe we have now made changes to ensure that the list will only come into play as it was designed to be used,” Hamm said. “Following your inquiry this morning, our IT folks are checking to determine that the fix has in fact been put in place, as I expect it has.”
Hamm said the Beach Monitoring list was designed to be used only by a small number of environmental health division employees. But, all 23 county departments use the same network email system, Hamm wrote.