Feeds

Council fined £70k after burglars nick vulnerable kids' files

Second data law breach in two years

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

The UK's privacy watchdog has fined the London Borough of Barnet £70k ($111k) after the local authority lost extremely sensitive information about young children for the second time in two years.

The latest loss occurred when a social worker took paper records home to work on them out of office hours. The staffer’s home was burgled in April last year, and the thieves made off with a laptop bag containing the documents and an encrypted computer.

The papers including the names, addresses, dates of birth and "details of the sexual activities" of 15 vulnerable youngsters. A subsequent investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office found fault with procedures at Barnet Council relating to the handling of paper records. The borough's policy included guidance for staff on handling sensitive files, but the measures failed to explain how the information should be kept secure.

The fine comes after the council promised in June 2010 to improve its information handling procedures following the theft of an unencrypted device containing personal data from an employee’s home. The council eventually introduced a paper handling policy, but this was not in place at the time of the second loss - hence the ICO's decision to levy a fairly substantial fine on the public body.

Simon Entwisle, the ICO’s director of operations, commented: "The potential for damage and distress in this case is obvious. It is therefore extremely disappointing the council had not put in place sufficient measures in time to avoid this second loss."

"While we are pleased that Barnet Council has now taken action to keep the personal data they use secure, it is vitally important that organisations have the correct guidance in place to keep sensitive paper records taken outside of the office safe. This includes storing papers containing sensitive information separately from laptops," he added.

The ICO gained power to levy fines in relation to data privacy breaches that could be blamed on either lax procedures or negligence in April 2010. Since then 16 organisations including a police force, health authorities and local councils have been fined over data breaches. Two private sector firms - defunct copyright infringement ambulance-chasers ACS:Law and employment agency A4e - are also among those fined for data privacy transgressions. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
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.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.