Feeds

Lanarkshire wristslap after vulnerable adults' data lost

ICO handbags council for losing handbag

Application security programs and practises

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.

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Sit back down, Julian Assange™, you're not going anywhere just yet
Swedish court refuses to withdraw arrest warrant
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.