NCIS billing system hits another problem (UPDATED)

Today NCIS, the troubled new billing system for Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities, had another no good, very bad day.


Details are still sketchy, but it appears that the system hit another bug similar to the one last week that caused spurious email notifications, allowed some people to see other customers’ utility bills, and forced the utilities to take their e-billing system entirely offline for several hours. If there was indeed a repeat of last week’s privacy hole, it exposed customer names, addresses, account numbers and consumption information – but not credit card or bank information.

Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and SeattleIT have refused to respond to inquiries on the topic all afternoon and evening, with only vague promises of more information “soon.” This obviously raises serious concerns about the utilities’ commitment to timely and forthright communication with their customers, and about the City of Seattle’s disclosure policies when personal information in their IT systems is compromised.

I will post an update when more information becomes available — both about what happened today with NCIS, and why the City responded with silence.

Clarification: The SeattleIT referred to herein is the city’s IT department, not the private consulting company that calls itself “SeattleIT.” The latter has no connection to the NCIS system or this story. My apologies for any issues this causes them.

UPDATE 9/14/16  1:00PM:  The NCIS folks finally admitted this afternoon that they indeed had a privacy incident yesterday.