Feeds

MIA in Iowa - personal data on 3m UK driving test candidates

Prestige contract goes Pearson shaped

Security for virtualized datacentres

A Hard drive containing personal details of three million candidates for the UK driving theory test has gone missing from a "secure facility" in, perplexingly, Iowa, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has told the House of Commons. The hard drive went missing in May, but 'only' includes name, address, phone number and email - no financial data.

So by recent UK standards this is a minor issue. But what was it all about? The data concerns candidates who took their theory test between September 2004 and April 2007, and was being held by a contractor working for the Driving Standards Agency. Now, here's a puzzle. Pearson VUE a part of the Pearson Group, "the largest testing company and education publisher in the world", began a seven year contract with the DSA to administer and process the test in September 2004. But the company being mentioned in relation to the data loss is named as Pearson Driving Assessments Ltd. A company of this name does exist, certainly, and reports that earlier this evening mentioned Pearson VUE seem mysteriously to have switched over to Pearson Driving Assessments Ltd instead.

Why this might be, we know not. But we do know that Pearson VUE was until recently claiming to hold the DSA test contract, and that the data that has gone missing covers the entire period for which Pearson VUE has had the contract.

It's entirely unclear why any company might have been squirrelling this data away anywhere, never mind in Iowa. There may be a rationale for retention of test results for future analysis, but the personal details of the candidates are of negligible relevance, and the long term retention of such data seems neither proportionate nor sensible. Data kleptos at work?

Helpfully, Pearson VUE offers a case study covering its relationship with the DSA. This tells us: "The intricate system of physical, password and encryption security ensures proprietary data, personal data and test items are always secure" and: "Verification of candidate identity is crucial to the integrity of the driving theory test. We offer real-time eligibility checks at the point of registration and an array of identification options to verify candidate identity at check-in for the test. Options available through Pearson VUE include biometric verification of fingerprints, photographs and signatures."

That biometric capability, together with the 150 test centres the company (or should that be another company?) operates throughout the UK, could come in handy when ID cards go live, one might speculate.

Aside from working for the DSA, Pearson VUE also operates tests and certification for a wide range of IT companies, including Sun, Citrix, Microsoft, Cisco and IBM. Its export of UK personal data to Iowa and elsewhere is covered by the US Safe Harbor arrangement with the EU. We do not as yet know what Pearson Driving Assessments Ltd's Safe Harbor arrangements might be. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.