Service NL announced Friday it is investigating an inappropriate access of personal information by an employee with the department.

In January, Motor Registration Division was alerted that an individual’s personal information may have been inappropriately accessed by an employee.

Service NL later determined that an employee of the department had accessed the individual’s information for non-work related purposes.

A further investigation determined that an additional 16 individuals had their personal information accessed inappropriately.

Service NL is also reviewing another 11 files to determine whether information was accessed inappropriately.

“This matter is a very serious concern to us as we hold drivers’ and vehicle owners’ personal information in the strictest of confidence. Once we learned of this incident we began an immediate investigation," said Service NL​ Minister Tony Cornect.

A spokesperson said the department will not be commenting on the employee's status.

New licences offered

Service NL has identified all 17 individuals who had their personal information accessed and is in the process of contacting them.

Each will be offered new driver’s licence identification.

If any of the other 11 individuals are deemed to have had their personal information accessed inappropriately, the department will also contact those individuals, said Cornect.

The department has also notified the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of the breach.

“We sincerely apologize to all those individuals affected. This access was inappropriate and should not have happened,” he said.

Cornect said the investigation is ongoing, and will include a further review of the employee’s system access history.