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Oakland police union threatens litigation over ransomware attack, city responds

Personal information stolen in Oakland ransomware attack
Personal information stolen in Oakland ransomware attack 01:07

OAKLAND – Oakland officials responded Monday to a threat of litigation from the Oakland Police Officers' Association over what it said was a lack of response and transparency by the city following a ransomware attack last month.

The attack breached the data of at least several dozen police officers and additional disclosures are possible. The data breach also affected other current and/or former employees.

Police union officials want to know about the impacts to employees, what's being done to mitigate those impacts and what's being done to prevent the same thing from happening again.

"Oakland city leaders talk about accountability, yet there has been zero accountability and a deafening silence for the safety and financial security of the city's valued employees," Oakland Police Officers' Association President Barry Donelan said in a statement.

"This city is truly broken when city employees learn more about the release of their confidential information from the media than their employer, whose incompetence and sloppy security allows these data breaches to occur," Donelan added.

Monday afternoon, city officials say they are going to meet with the police union. The officials said they are grateful for employees as the city works to recover from the attack.

"Protecting the security of their personal information, and all data we maintain, is a top priority," a spokesperson for the city said. 

Attorney Rockne Lucia Jr., whose is representing the police union, sent a letter dated March 6 to former Oakland City Administrator G. Harold Duffey.

The letter asked how the city's data was breached as well as what is being done to mitigate its impact and what is being done to prevent a future attack.

Then Lucia sent a letter March 20 to Mayor Sheng Thao expressing frustration over Duffey's and/or the city administration's lack of response to the March 6 letter.

Lucia asked for dignity and respect for the more than 700 sworn officers the union represents.

Lucia asked Thao to respond to the letter by the end of the day Friday and said she did not. Lucia said if Thao failed to respond, he was prepared to take legal action.

While the city responded Monday to the police union, the union maintains its option to sue, Lucia said, to be sure the city protects the interests of officers.

Experts and law enforcement are working together to help the city recover, the city's spokesperson said, adding that the city has communicated with employees.

"We've sent regular email updates to all employees, responded to frequently asked questions, hosted two employee information sessions, posted frequent website updates, and set up a dedicated call center and email inbox to respond to our employees' questions.

"In addition, we sent formal notification letters outlining the specific data that was breached as well as resources that we made available to those who were impacted both by email and in the mail," the spokesperson said. 

City officials said in these types of challenges they must balance transparency and the integrity of the investigation. Officials said they will continue share information with employees and the community.

People who were employees between July 2010 and January 2022 who have not received a letter are urged to email to get information about impacts to them and available resources for them.

The same employees can contact a call center Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time for information. The phone number is (866) 869-1861.

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