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Medical data of 500,000 French patients leaked online

The medical data of around 500,000 people, taken from 30 medical laboratories in northern France, has been published online after a computer hack.

Medical data of 500,000 French patients leaked online
The medical data of about half a million people was circulating online. Photo: AFP

The stolen files include the names of 491,840 patients, their contact information as well as confidential medical information and even their password, according to French newspaper Libération.

The document, containing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and social security numbers, was initially shared on hacker forums and dark web sites.

For some patients the information includes their blood type, personal doctor or insurance company, and even notes on their health condition and medical treatments.

According to Libération, which investigated the leak, the data was taken from around 30 medical laboratories, mostly located in north-western France, that were all using the same software to collect their patients’ data.

It corresponds to samples taken between 2015 and October 2020.

The database was first identified on a website called Zataz about two weeks ago. It was the subject of commercial negotiations between hackers specialising in exchanging stolen data, the newspaper reported.

The Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL), the administrative regulatory body in charge of data privacy law, launched an investigation on Wednesday, according to AFP.

Several French hospitals have in recent weeks been the subject of cyberattacks and a €1bn package of measures has been announced to address the attacks – some of which are criminal and some seem to be politicial.

If the extent of the leak is confirmed, it would constitute “a particularly grave one”, considering the number of victims and the sensitivity of the information, the secretary general of the CNIL Louis Dutheillet told AFP.

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CRIME

French tycoon fined €150k for harming tortoises

Corsican construction tycoon Patrick Rocca was fined €150,000 on Tuesday for harming protected tortoises on a building site even after officials told him to stop.

French tycoon fined €150k for harming tortoises

Six dead specimens of a species known as Hermann’s tortoise and another “fatally wounded” animal were found when officers from France’s biodiversity agency inspected the worksite in December 2019.

Around 3.5 hectares of the habitat just outside the Mediterranean island’s capital Ajaccio were disturbed and 2.8 hectares destroyed, the inspectors found, calling for the work to be halted.

But Rocca’s Fortimmo company – one of the largest employers on the French Mediterranean island, with around 1,000 local workers – continued construction, with more dead tortoises found a few days later.

His conviction for mutilation and unauthorised destruction of a protected animal species and their habitat follows a court ruling against Fortimmo, which had to pay a €500,000 fine, and a total of €530,000 in damages.

Rocca’s lawyer Philippe Gatti called the punishments “excessive”.

Corsica is one of the last places where Hermann’s tortoises – the only species native to France – still live in the wild.

They are protected by France and the European Union as well as internationally.

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