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ICO warns charities over data failings

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has released a warning to all charities to be vigilant with their personal data handling after a major society was found guilty of three breaches of the Data Protection Act.

The Alzheimer’s Society lost the personal information of more than 1,000 staff members when thieves broke into its Cardiff office last April.

Several unencrypted laptops were stolen from the building after staff had failed to properly lock away the items. The names, addresses, national insurance numbers and salary details of approximately 1,000 employees were contained within the computers.

“This is unacceptable; portable devices must be encrypted if they are used to store personal information,” said ICO Head of Investigations, Sally-Anne Poole.

“We are aware that the laptops were due to be encrypted and I am pleased that the Alzheimer’s Society has taken action to guard against security breaches of this nature in future.”

The Alzheimer’s Society has now signed a formal undertaking to ensure that current and future staff are fully aware of policies for storage, use and disposal of personal information.

“We are deeply disappointed that these breaches have occurred,” said a Society spokesperson. “All senior managers have now been trained in data management and this is due to be offered to all staff in the coming months.”

The ICO has warned all companies, not just charities, to be aware of failings and stem the tide of data loss before it has a chance to occur.

“It is vital that all organisations ensure personal information is handled securely and that appropriate staff have adequate training in this area,” added Ms Poole.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

February 22, 2010 at 11:58 am

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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