Faith in the government's ability to keep personal data secure has been rocked for a third time by revelations of yet another data loss, this time the personal details of more than three million learner drivers.
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Transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, has promised that her department will tighten up data security and apologised for "any uncertainty" caused to drivers' licence applicants between September 2004 and April this year.
Kelly admitted that a contractor in Iowa in the US had reported the computer disc containing the data missing in May, but said the data did not include financial details, dates of birth, or copies of signatures.
The government's latest embarrassment comes just days after the Driver and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland admitted losing the personal details of more than 6,000 drivers and just weeks afterHM Revenue and Customs lost discs containing the names and bank account details of 25 million child-benefit claimants.
Theresa Villiers, Conservative shadow minister for transport, said the latest admission was evidence of "systemic failure" within the government's data protection controls.
The child-benefit data included the names of children and their parents, addresses, dates of birth, child-benefit numbers, National Insurance numbers and even bank and building society account details, but Alastair Darling, chancellor, said there was no evidence the discs had fallen into criminal hands.