City of Yellowknife exploring legal options to address 'theft of internal information'
Emails taken by employee in 2016 include conversations between administration, staff and council
The City of Yellowknife has confirmed that emails sent and received by senior city staff and council members were inappropriately compromised by an employee, saying they are "exploring legal options" to address the breach.
The emails, which were taken by an employee in late 2016, include conversations between senior administration, staff, and members of city council. According to the employee, who CBC agreed not to name for fear of reprisal, the breach included emails by senior city staff and council over a number of years.
The emails seen by CBC appear to encompass every message sent by a member of senior city administration from their work email address over a number of months in 2014.
CBC first approached the City of Yellowknife for comment about the emails on Oct. 9. On Oct. 26, it issued a news release stating that "the breach of confidentiality appears to be similar to an incident the City had been previously aware of."
"In March 2017, City Administration was made aware that City emails from 2014 were in the hands of at least one member of the public; these may or may not be the same emails that were given to the media," the release reads.
It says the emails were taken from the city's document management system and show internal communications between members of administration and council.
"Administration has confirmed that the emails were inappropriately accessed and copied by a City employee, who then distributed these to other members of the public before leaving the organization in 2016."
Not a leak' or 'hack,' City says
In the release, the City stated that the incident "is not a security breach, 'leak' or 'hack' of any kind."
"The protection of information, systems, people and facilities is of critical importance and we work to constantly update and refine our practices," the release reads, adding that it is exploring legal options to "address these incidents."
City councillor Steve Payne previously told CBC that as of Oct. 1 he had not been advised by administration that his emails may have been compromised. The release does not address when councillors or affected staff members were made aware, despite CBC posing that specific question to a member of the city's communications staff.
The employee says they took the documents after becoming frustrated with what they characterized as a lack of internal and external transparency at the city's administrative level. The employee believed a distorted flow of information from members of administration to the mayor and city council had limited the ability of council to make proper decisions on issues within the city.
The release does not address the employee's allegations, but states that "municipal decision-making is the most transparent of any order of government," pointing out that council decisions and meetings are held in public and open to residents.