More than 100 local councils lost personal data, finds report

Privacy and data protecti

More than 100 local councils lost personal data, finds report

Jenny Williams

Personal data has been lost by 132 councils in the past three years, with some of that information being found on Facebook, according to reports. 

A freedom of information (FOI) request by Big Brother Watch (BBW) found 1,035 cases of data loss between August 2008 and August 2011. The report said Buckinghamshire and Kent councils experienced the greatest data loss, with scanned case notes from Kent Council ending up on Facebook. 

Nick Pickles, BBW director, told the BBCthat only 55 incidents were reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The FOI showed a “shockingly lax attitude” to protection of confidential informationby some councils, he said.

"The fact that only a tiny fraction of staff have been dismissed brings into question how seriously managers take protecting the privacy of their service users and local residents,” added Pickles.

"Despite having access to increasing amounts of data and being responsible for even more services, local authorities are simply not able to say our personal information is safe with them."

The information showed data relating to more than 3,000 children and young people was compromised. In Birmingham, a lost USB stick contained personal data about 64,000 tenants. 

In total, 244 laptops, 98 memory sticks and 93 mobile devices went missing. 

The ICO revealed yesterdaythat Southwark Councilescaped a fine after discarding personal data relating to more than 7,000 people in a skip for 18 months.

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