Feeds

Lanarkshire wristslap after vulnerable adults' data lost

ICO handbags council for losing handbag

Boost IT visibility and business value

A local authority has signed an undertaking to improve the security of the personal data it holds after information about six vulnerable home support clients was stolen from a worker, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said.

North Lanarkshire Council's guidance on how workers should use, transport and dispose of sensitive documents was "inadequate", the ICO, the UK's data protection watchdog, said.

"North Lanarkshire Council breached the Data Protection Act after the theft of a home support worker's bag containing papers which included sensitive personal information," an ICO statement (3-page/28KB PDF) said.

Organisations responsible for holding personal data must secure it from "unauthorised or unlawful processing ... and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data," a principle of the Data Protection Act provides.

The ICO said North Lanarkshire had alerted it to the theft in October last year.

"The bag – which was not locked – contained the worker's visiting schedule for the next two days," the ICO statement said. "The schedule included information relating to the mental or physical health of six vulnerable adults who were being supported by the council's Housing and Social Work Services department."

North Lanarkshire will make sure it has adequate policies and procedures for storing, use and disposal of hard copy documents containing personal data, and will train staff how to comply with those policies, the Council's undertakings said.

"Hard copy documentation will contain the minimum amount of personal data required for its purpose, and will be anonymised where possible," the Council committed to in its data protection undertakings (2-page/67KB PDF).

Adequate physical security measures will be implemented to prevent unauthorised access to personal data, the council said, and it also has discretion to use other security measure that would ensure the information is protected, the Council's undertakings said.

"Organisations have a responsibility to make sure that any personal information used by their workers outside of the office remains secure," Assistant Commissioner for Scotland, Ken Macdonald said in the ICO's statement.

"It is never acceptable for papers containing sensitive personal information to be left in an unlocked bag without necessary precautions," Macdonald said.

"The council's guidance on the handling of this type of information was inadequate and failed to advise staff on the best means of keeping information safe," Macdonald said. "We are pleased that North Lanarkshire Council has taken action to ensure that its service users' personal information will be better protected in the future," he said.

North Lanarkshire Council said it considers that its procedures and processes generally comply with data protection requirements.

"No system of retaining information can ever be foolproof, such as when the theft of a handbag is involved," a spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said in an emailed statement. "But it is accepted by the Council that certain personal information was stolen," the spokesman said. "The Chief Executive has made it clear that he expects all services to comply fully with appropriate security standards,” the statement said.

Copyright © 2011, OUT-LAW.com

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

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Government's 'Google Review' copyright rules become law
Welcome in a New Era ... of copyright litigation
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.