Feeds

Reckless loss of laptop data? ICO calls for stiff fines

Parking a laptop without due care and attention...

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas told the House of Lords this week that doctors should be fined up to £5,000 if they lose confidential patient data.

Giving evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee, Thomas said: "If a doctor, or hospital [worker] leaves a laptop containing patients' records in his car and it is stolen, it is hard to see that is anything but gross negligence," The Times reports.

Anyone judged guilty of "knowingly or recklessly flouting data protection principles" would face a £5,000 fine in a magistrates court or an unlimited amount in a Crown Court.

Sounds like a good idea to us, but why stop with doctors? Presumably, spooks in Vauxhall who leave laptops in wine bars will face even heftier fines. And other arms of government should not be exempt - figures from 2005 revealed that the Home Office lost an impressive 95 computers between January 2005 and June 2005. The Ministry of Defence lost almost 600 laptops over five years - one of which, complete with sensitive files, turned up in a council tip.

Thomas said the aim was not to create individual victims, but a deterrent was needed. He said anyone with confidential data on a computer should know the basics of encryption.

Encryption firm PGP was one of several vendors licking its lips at this proposal.

Jamie Cowper, director of European Marketing at PGP Corporation, said: "On the one hand, this is great news for patient rights groups. Given the recent spate of data breaches at NHS trusts, perhaps Richard Thomas's approach of hard compulsion is the only way to get the medical establishment to take this problem seriously.

"However, by placing the emphasis on protecting the device - specifically laptops - rather than the confidential data itself, he could be accused of treating the symptoms of this problem, rather than providing a cure.

"What's more, it's not fair to expect doctors to be data security experts."

A BMA spokesman said:“Records kept on a computer should be treated the same way as those kept on paper. If GPs are taking them out of the practice they obviously need to ensure they are protected. But the key thing is that the rules are applied sensibly. It would be completely unreasonable for doctors to be penalised if records were stolen after they had done everything in their power to ensure their safety.”

There's more from The Times here. Archived audio of the evidence given to the Lords Committee is here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.