Feeds

ICO smacks Welsh council with record £130k fine

Vulnerable child's data sent to same stranger who received the last breach...

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Data privacy watchdogs have fined Powys County Council £130,000, the highest fine the ICO has ever levied, for failing to protect the personal data of vulnerable young people.

The Information Commissioner’s Office got out the big stick to punish the Welsh council after it sent details of a child protection case to the wrong recipient, as a statement by the ICO explains.

Two separate reports about child protection cases were sent to the same shared printer. It is thought that two pages from one report were then mistakenly collected with the papers from another case and were sent out without being checked. The recipient mistakenly received the two pages of the report and knew the identities of the parent and child whose personal details were included in the papers. The recipient made a complaint to the council and a further complaint was also submitted by the recipient’s mother via her MP.

In a horrible twist, the serious privacy breach follows a similar but less serious incident in June last year, when a social worker sent information relating to a vulnerable child to the same recipient. The ICO also made it clear that the recipient knew the parent/s and the child/s named in the reports in both instances.

Powys was advised to introduce mandatory training and to tighten up its security measures following the first incident. Its failure to apply this properly has resulted in the whopper fine, which will ultimately come out of the pockets of local council tax-payers. The council has also been served with an enforcement notice.

The penalty is the highest that the ICO has served since it received the power in April 2010. Most but not all of these fines have been levied against local authorities, who seem particularly lax about data security. The ICO also fined ACS:Law, the one-man law firm which controversially harried alleged file-sharers, over a security breach arising from a hack attack.

Assistant Commissioner for Wales Anne Jones said: “This is the third UK council in as many weeks to receive a monetary penalty for disclosing sensitive information about vulnerable people. It’s the most serious case yet and it has attracted a record fine. The distress that this incident would have caused to the individuals involved is obvious and made worse by the fact that the breach could have been prevented if Powys County Council had acted on our original recommendations.

“The ICO has also issued a legal notice ordering the council to take action to improve its data handling. Failure to do so will result in legal action being taken through the courts.

“There is clearly an underlying problem with data protection in social services departments and we will be meeting with stakeholders from across the UK’s local government sector to discuss how we can support them in addressing these problems,” she added.

Christian Toon, European head of information security at information management services Iron Mountain, said the Powys breach high;lighted the need for user education.

“In so many cases these incidents are the result of carelessness and lack of thought rather than any malicious intention," Toon said. "Having said that, the public has the right to expect that information about them is handled with care at all times. For public sector organisations this should mean committing to regular staff training and the creation of robust guidelines that everyone understands and buys into – employees must be encouraged to think before they act.”

“There is no excuse; basic errors such as printing highly sensitive and private child protection reports to a shared printer should not be happening in a modern and accountable government organisation,” he concluded. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual 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.