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The independent body responsible for enforcing the Data Protection Act has expressed concern about Lime Pictures' monumental technical cock-up which exposed thousands of individuals' personal details on its website.

A spokesperson at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) told The Register: "It is a matter of concern if a job applicant's personal details remained available on the website in question for several days.

"Obviously, doing business online has great advantages for organisations and individuals. However, as this incident illustrates, it is important to ensure that the appropriate technical and organisational measures are in place to ensure that personal information is properly protected."

As we revealed yesterday, the Grange Hill and Hollyoaks TV firm had been displaying up to 20,000 filled-in applications - including home addresses and employment history - on the job section of its website for at least several days.

But the sensitive data could in fact have been accessible from the moment the website went live, with poorly developed code being the likely cause of the error.

Lime Pictures denied that the information had continued to be available after it was first told about the problem last Friday.

However, anyone that visited the Lime Pictures website was able to continually access the highly sensitive data throughout Monday, despite repeated calls to the firm to sort the mess out.

The job section of the website was finally taken down late afternoon on Monday, but a simple search showed that the information could still be accessed via Google's cached links.

Under the Data Protection Act, rules clearly state that "personal data kept for any purpose shouldn't be kept for longer than necessary". However, Lime Pictures appears to have retained a lengthy history of all previous job applicants on its system.

The ICO says any UK-based company that processes personal details has "to comply with the rules imposed by the Data Protection Act, which include the obligation to store personal information securely".

If a company fails to adhere to what is defined as "strict rules of good practice" with the personal data it handles, individuals are advised to file a complaint to the ICO.

Speaking about Lime Pictures' handling of the website error, the ICO spokesperson said: "If an individual has any concerns about the way in which their personal data has been processed they should contact the ICO."

El Reg asked Lime Pictures for reassurance that such a data protection error would not happen again, and what security measures the TV firm was putting in place, but it is yet to provide a response.

There's more information on the Data Protection Act here. ®

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