Feeds

Council punished over theft of laptops from locked room

They forgot the sign saying 'Beware of The Leopard'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has taken action against a local authority which lost two laptop computers, despite the fact that they were stored in a locked office and password-protected.

The ICO has found that the Council was in breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA) and The Highland Council has signed formal undertakings promising to encrypt all mobile devices.

The laptops contained personal details on 1,400 people and included medical information on some of them. The computers were password protected and stored in a locked office, but they were not encrypted. The ICO said that "no additional physical security measures were in place".

"The stolen laptops contained sensitive personal information, including health records," said Ken Macdonald, assistant commissioner. "I urge all councils and their executive teams to ensure that data protection is treated as an important part of corporate governance. Safeguarding sensitive personal information must be embedded in their organisational culture. No public body can afford to take risks with personal details, least of all health records."

A formal undertaking signed by Council chief executive Alistair Dodds commits the Council to encrypting all mobile devices containing personal data by the end of September.

Many of the data breaches involving public bodies in recent months and years have involved lost machines or devices taken from clearly vulnerable locations. The formal undertakings, though, suggest that simply locking computers in a room is not good enough for the ICO.

The undertakings orders the Council to ensure that "physical security measures and procedures are adequate to prevent the theft of devices that contain personal data, the loss of which could cause damage or distress to individuals".

The ICO can ask companies that have breached the DPA to undertake certain behaviour that it thinks will fix the problem. It cannot yet take direct action against companies or organisations for breaches of the eight principles underlying the DPA.

The ICO will be given powers by Government to issue direct fines to organisations whose behaviour represents a knowing or reckless breach of the principles.

Though the extent of the fines is not yet known OUT-LAW.COM revealed this week that the new powers will come into effect in April 2010.

The council's formal undertaking can be read here (pdf).

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.