Feeds

NHS fined £375k after stolen patient data flogged on eBay

Hospital bosses appeal against ICO's stiffest punishment yet

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The Information Commissioner is proposing to issue its heaviest ever fine for a breach of UK data protection laws. It proposes fining a health body after patient records were stolen from a hospital and sold on eBay.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust told Out-Law.com that hard drives containing patient data had been sold on the auction website by a contractor it employed to destroy them. A spokesperson for the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said the watchdog had proposed fining the Trust £375,000 over the incident. The Trust has challenged the suggested penalty. "We were the victims of a crime," Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust said in a statement. "We subcontracted the destruction of these hard drives to a registered contractor who subsequently sold them on eBay."

"As soon as we were alerted to this we informed the police and with their help we recovered all the hard drives stolen by this individual," he said. "We are confident that there is a very low risk of any of the data from them having passed into the public domain. We have subsequently received a Notice from the Information Commissioner’s Office proposing a fine of £375,000 which we are, in the circumstances, challenging."

Under the Data Protection Act (DPA) organisations must take "appropriate technical and organisational measures ... against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data". The law requires organisations to be extra protective over sensitive personal data, such as patient medical records. In a statement the ICO said it is "currently making inquiries into a possible breach of the Data Protection Act and is unable to speculate on what action will be taken at this time."

The data was lost from Brighton General Hospital in September 2010, according to a report by the BBC.

Under the DPA the ICO has the power to issue penalties of up to £500,000 for serious data breaches. The ICO can issue notices indicating to organisations responsible for the data what punishment, if any, it considers appropriate for the breach but can decide to alter or withdraw the proposed penalty in a final determination if representations made by those organisations persuade it to do so.

The biggest fine the ICO has ever issued is £130,000. The watchdog fined Powys County Council the money after pages from a child protection report were wrongly included as part of a separate document sent to a member of the public.

The ICO recently published an information rights strategy in which it detailed its intention to give "particular regulatory attention" to health organisations as part of prioritisation of its enforcement action.

Copyright © 2012, OUT-LAW.com

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

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
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.
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.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?