Feeds

Dole Office staff snooped into private data 992 times in 10 months

And that's just the times they were caught...

Security for virtualized datacentres

Staff at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were disciplined a total of 992 times for unlawfully or inappropriately accessing individuals' social security records between April 2011 and January this year.

The figures were obtained following a freedom of information (FOI) request to DWP by Channel 4's Dispatches programme.

Last week Dispatches reported on the 'blagging' of personal data by private detectives and reported on the number of data offences recorded by DWP.

The FOI figures also revealed that in the past year the Department of Health had recorded 158 instances of unlawful accessing of medical records, according to a report by the Daily Telegraph. DoH said not every such instance is recorded though.

Under the principles of the Data Protection Act (DPA) organisations processing personal data must do so fairly and lawfully. They must take "appropriate technical and organisational measures" to protect against "unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data".

Under section 55 of the DPA a person is generally guilty of an offence if they "knowingly or recklessly ... obtain or disclose personal data or the information contained in personal data, or procure the disclosure to another person of the information contained in personal data" without consent from the 'data controller'. A person is not guilty of an offence if they can show that unlawfully obtaining, disclosing or procuring of the personal data was justified as being in the public interest.

The DPA also defines "sensitive personal data" as including personal data relating to an individual's "physical or mental health or condition". Because information about such matters could be used in a discriminatory way, and is likely to be of a private nature, it must be treated with greater care than other personal data, the ICO has said in guidance on sensitive personal data.

Under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act the Justice Secretary has the power to introduce new regulations that would allow a custodial sentence penalty to be available for offences under section 55 of the DPA, but those powers have yet to be used. The current penalty for committing a section 55 offence is a maximum £5,000 fine if the case is heard in a Magistrates Court and an unlimited fine for cases tried in a Crown Court.

The ICO does have the power to issue monetary penalty notices of up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the DPA, but that is in relation to civil cases.

Copyright © 2012, Out-Law.com

Out-Law.com is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
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.