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UK insurer hit with biggest ever data loss fine

£2.3m for losing customer records

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Zurich Insurance must pay an enormous £2.3m fine for losing thousands of British people's personal data.

The fine was imposed not by the Information Commissioner's Office but by the Financial Services Authority.

Zurich Insurance lost 46,000 customer records including some bank details when a tape back-up went missing between two sites in South Africa. Even worse, it took a year for Zurich UK to hear about the loss.

The FSA said it found no evidence that the data had been misused or compromised, but it was clear that Zurich had no effective data protection systems in place or systems to manage the risks to "the security of customer data resulting from the outsourcing arrangement".

The FSA said it had knocked a third off the fine because Zurich agreed to pay at an early stage - the company would have had to pay £3.25m instead of £2.275m.

The FSA also holds the record for the previous largest data loss fine when it fined various HSBC tentacles £2m for losing data.

Back in 2007 it also hit Nationwide with a £998,000 slap.

The ICO got the power to impose fines in April but has yet to use them. Until that point the ICO could take an offender to court in order to get a fine imposed - a maximum of £5,000 in a magistrate's court or an unlimited amount in the Crown Court.

The ICO did get Zurich Insurance to promise not to do it again and to use encryption when shifting tapes around in the future.

The lost tape included data on half a million South African clients of Zurich, and 40,000 from Botswana.

FSA statement is here. ®

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