Feeds

Home Office promises better personal data guards

ICO orders tightening of loose lips

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

The Home Office has promised privacy regulator the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) that it will handle citizens' personal data securely in the future, after the ICO found it in breach of the Data Protection Act.

A contractor to the Home Office, PA Consulting, lost an unencrypted memory stick containing the sensitive personal information of thousands of people last year. The ICO has now made the Home Office sign a formal undertaking to protect citizens' data.

The Home Office has promised that all mobile or portable machines which carry personal data will be encrypted from now on, and that any contractor will also use encryption.

“The Data Protection Act clearly states that organisations must take appropriate measures to ensure that personal information is kept secure," said Assistant Commissioner Mick Gorrill. "The Home Office recognises the seriousness of this data loss and has agreed to take immediate remedial action. It has also agreed to conduct future audits to ensure compliance with the Act.”

The undertaking commits the Home Office to ensuring that anyone processing personal data for it will comply to the same standards as it, and that it will perform regular audits to ensure that that is the case.

"This case was serious because it involved thousands of individual records, which contained sensitive information on people serving custodial sentences and others previously convicted of criminal offences," said Gorrill. "This breach illustrates that even though a contractor lost the data, it is the data controller (the Home Office) which is responsible for the security of the information. It is vital that sensitive personal information is handled properly and held securely at all times."

The ICO could have issued an enforcement notice against the Home Office, a breach of which would be a criminal offence carrying a fine of up to £5,000. The Home Office agreed to the undertaking "in consideration of the Commissioner not exercising his powers to serve an enforcement notice," the undertaking said.

The ICO has also taken similar action against Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University NHS Trust and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

An unencrypted laptop containing sensitive information on 5,000 people was lost by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University NHS Trust while Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust lost an unencrypted memory stick containing details on patients and staff.

The two organisations also signed undertakings promising to protect personal information in their care.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

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
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
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.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
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.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.