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2007 worst ever year for data protection

Data on 37 million Brits mislaid

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Last year was the worst ever for data losses in the UK, with almost 37 million people having their private data compromised.

The government's loss of 25 million child benefit records was the largest single screw-up, but other government departments and private companies played their part too.

The figures were compiled by the Lib Dems, and party leader leader Nick Clegg said the problems showed the need for a rethink on data protection legislation, as well as calling for the immediate end to the ID card project.

Clegg said: "The ID card project is now in freefall, because faith in the Government's ability to handle personal data has hit crisis point.

"There is simply no way that any democratic government can expect an unwilling public to accept having their precious personal data cropped and stored in the world's largest database when they aren't confident that database will be safe."

Since the loss of 25 million records by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs in November, Ruth Kelly admitted the loss of three million learner driver records, while nine NHS trusts admitted losing 168,000 confidential patient records. The Citizens Advice bureau in Belfast lost 60,000 records along with bank details when a laptop was stolen, and HMRC lost another 6,500 records of Countrywide Assured customers.

Private companies also had a poor year protecting data. TK Maxx lost an estimated five million UK credit card records after a deliberate attack compromised accounts for 200 million customers worldwide.

Job website monster.com had contact details for 3.1 million customers pinched when it was hacked.

Another quarter of a million private customer records from loans.co.uk were compromised when a member of staff sold them. Finally, in December, Leeds Building Society managed to lose data on its entire workforce of 1,000 people.

In total, 36,989,300 people in the UK have had their private records compromised.

The Lib Dems want an immediate end to the ID card project, and Nick Clegg has promised not to hand over his biometric data when ID cards become compulsory. ®

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