Feeds

ISA chairman assures nation: Your data is safe

Hasn't got any data, so hasn't lost any data

Boost IT visibility and business value

Comment Fears were growing this week over the safety of ultra-sensitive personal data, as the BBC - in the shape of Jeremy Vine - finally caught up with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority, and quizzed its chairman over their security procedures.

On Monday night, Panorama took a close look at the new scheme that went live last October, to create a vetting database that will determine whether adults are allowed to work with children and vulnerable adults. This scheme will, on the government’s own figures, cost the taxpayer an additional £277 million over the next three years.

Interviewed by Jeremy Vine, former Information Commissioner Richard Thomas was cautious. He said: "With any large governmental collection of personal information, there are clear and substantial risks that the information may be inaccurate.

"There are risks the information data may be out of date. There are risks the information may be irrelevant. There are risks that it may be compromised or get into the wrong hands, and the larger the database the larger the risk."

With respect to the "soft intelligence" – essentially, hearsay and unsubstantiated allegations, he added: "We have to look at what the detriment might be if things go wrong. This can be very damaging to peoples’ careers. They might lose a job or all types of work for a very long time. It can be damaging in financial terms. This also can be very damaging in personal, social and family terms."

Roger Singleton, Chairman of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) reassured viewers by confirming that there is a very high level of security within the government’s secure information system in terms of physical safeguards.

He pointed out that the ISA has never lost any personal data, although as Jeremy Vine observed, the ISA has not yet had any data to lose.

However, the fundamental issue remains that in general, the government’s record when it comes to protecting personal data is "terrible". The data that will be held on the vetting database is also likely to be far more sensitive and far more directly damaging should it get out into the world than most other data.

Mr Singleton responded: "It's not down to me to defend the government.

"What in fact you will see is that individuals and people are careless with information and that’s how it gets lost, and so... our staff have been really very thoroughly trained on the importance of information.

"Information doesn’t leave the building either electronically or in paper form."

In other words: the main cause of data loss is carelessness. However, we should be reassured as the ISA, uniquely amongst government departments, will train its staff not to be careless.

A spokesman for the ISA later confirmed this stance, telling El Reg: "The ISA sees the security of its information as a chief priority. We have put in place robust processes to ensure the highest safety and security of our information. All staff are trained in information security and data protection. We have also created a stringent risk management process to support our safeguarding responsibilities." ®

Bootnote

As one interviewee confirmed, the Child Support Agency, a department entrusted with equally sensitive data, managed to get details wrong in approximately 2,500 cases last year.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy
Even Moore's Law can't help the architects of statism now
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
New voting rules leave innocent Brits at risk of SPAM TSUNAMI
Read the paperwork very carefully - or fall victim to marketing shysters
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.