Police in Northern Ireland are investigating allegations a data breach saw personal details of private citizens handed to suspected loyalist paramilitaries.
The investigation comes after a report in the Irish News on Friday.
The newspaper claims the data included email passwords and was unintentionally handed over by the PSNI’s Paramilitary Crime Taskforce – to people it was investigating.
The breach, said to involve data relating to hundreds of people, is alleged to have happened when a pen drive was left in a computer which was being examined by the taskforce.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray said: “We take these allegations extremely seriously and have now commenced an investigation into the contents of today’s newspaper article.
“To date, it remains the case that PSNI has not been made aware of any data loss through our internal reporting mechanisms.”
ACC Gray added: “We are seeking to validate the contents of the article and establish if PSNI is indeed the data owner.
“We appeal to anyone who may have knowledge or possession of the alleged pen drive to contact police.”