Head of Interior Ministry IT center resigns over loss of data device

Ragner Paevere.
Ragner Paevere. Source: SMIT

Ragner Paevere is stepping down as director general of the Ministry of the Interior's IT and Development Center (SMIT) after the loss of a removable device put historical Population Register personal data at risk.

An internal investigation concluded that the removable device in question had been destroyed, however the destruction of the device had not been properly documented. The device was destroyed at least four years ago.

Stored on the device were archival copies of scans of historical documents involving family-related events. The disappearance of the device was discovered when a scanned file in the Population Register could not be accessed and needed to be replaced with an archived copy. The device containing the copies, however, could not be found.

"What happened is extremely unfortunate, as the device held information containing personal data entrusted to SMIT," Paevere said.

SMIT's data handling principles have since been improved to be more robust.

"I nonetheless take responsibility for this situation and am resigning from my post," Paevere said. "My last day of work will be on Feb. 23. I am positive that my colleagues at SMIT will make every effort to ensure that SMIT is 100 percent up to its tasks going forward."

The removable device contained scans of family-related documents from 1926-2006, including family letters and birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates.

According to Undersecretary for Population Facts and Civil Society Raivo Küüt, the original hard copies of the files that had been on the device in question are located in the National Archives of Estonia.

"Saved on the removable device were image files, or photocopies, of handwritten documents containing personal data, which were created years ago in the course of the digitalization of family events," Küüt explained, adding that the incorrect handling of the device containing archival copies did not affect the functioning of the Population Register.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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