City contractor goes out for drinks after work, loses memory card containing personal data of nearly half a million residents

A Japanese city was left with more than a headache after admitting that a contractor lost a USB containing personal data of all 460,000 residents overnight.

The western city of Amagasaki said on Thursday that a private contractor, whose name was not released, was carrying the memory card when he went for a drink after work.

But the individual, who was working on a municipal pandemic relief program, lost the bag containing the USB on Tuesday night.

“We are deeply sorry that we have deeply damaged the public’s trust in the city administration,” an Amagasaki official told a news conference.

The information was copied to the USB for easy transfer to a call center near Osaka.

It included the names, genders, addresses, birthdays and other personal information of all residents of the city, as well as tax and bank account information for some residents, the city said.

But there may be an upside, as the city says the data was encrypted and the USB locked with a password. So far, officials said, there was no sign that the information had been accessed.

The loss was reported to the police, who are investigating.

“We will fully ensure security management when handling electronic data,” the city said in a statement, according to Kyodo News. “We will work to regain the trust of our residents by raising awareness of the importance of protecting personal information.”

According to travel website Osaka Info, Amagasaki is considered a “hotspot” for the region’s nightlife.

“Socializing with friends and co-workers over food and drink is the norm, an easy goal to achieve considering that izakayas (Japanese gastropubs) are plentiful and draft beers and highballs (whiskey sodas) are flowing freely,” says the site.

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