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Council reprimanded by ICO after gross data breaches

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An Information Commissioners Office (ICO) investigation has found that Shropshire Council breached the Data Protection Act (DPA) multiple times regarding the level and loss of social care data.

The investigation was sparked after council officials lost an unencrypted memory stick, containing personal information about adults in social care and members of staff, during a postal exchange with a Cardiff contractor.

The ICO was also concerned about the level of personal information stored on the data stick, claiming it was “excessive” for its purpose and out of date.

In response, Shropshire Council, which was commended for its willingness to assist the ICO, has signed a formal Undertaking by which it will not use irrelevant, out of date information and that all exchanges will be done using portable, encrypted devices.

The Undertaking also requires the council to increase staff training about the methods and consequences of data management.

“It is essential that organisations ensure the correct safeguards are in place when storing and transferring personal information, especially when it relates to such sensitive issues,” said Mick Gorrill, Assistant Information Commissioner.

Other than Undertakings, breaches of the DPA can bring substantial fines for UK businesses. In 2007, the Financial Services Authority fined Nationwide Building Society an unprecedented £980,000 for failing to control its data management properly and the ICO is keen to stress the importance of safety.

“Information must be kept safe, secure and up to date – these are important principles of the Data Protection Act,” added Mr Gorrill.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

December 30, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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