A CIVIL liberties protection group has revealed a catalogue of personal data loss gaffes by Brent Council.
Big Brother Watch, which aims to protect the privacy of UK residents, obtained the information on Brent alongside a host of other local authorities who have been named and shamed for their careless handling of information.
Data loss in Brent includes the wrong mailing list being used to distribute child care packs, which include sensitive child care information, the minutes of a Brent child protection conference meeting being sent to the wrong people, and customer information being sent to the wrong solicitor.
Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “This research highlights a shockingly lax attitude to protecting confidential information across nearly a third of councils.
“For more than 3,000 children and young people (across the UK) to have their personal information compromised is deeply disturbing, as in most cases parents will not be aware of the incidents. However, equally concerning is that 263 local authorities claim to have not lost a single mobile phone or memory stick, which seems surprising given the scale of loss in other authorities and the private sector."
132 authorities in the UK were involved in a total 1,035 incidents of data loss, and the information of at least 3100 children, young people or students, was compromised in 118 cases across the country.
Other incidents in Brent that were revealed by BBW include:
- Brent Council documentation stolen from an employee's car.
- Brent data found on a 'highway' in recycling bags rather than confidential waste bags.
- Brent meeting minutes sent to wrong parent
- Documents sent to wrong recipients in post
- Brent hard copy paper file and appointment diary left at council employee's friend's house
A council spokesman said: "“Each breach is investigated and preventative action is taken. In Brent most breaches were actually linked to procedural issues rather than individual errors and were resolved by increasing training and ensuring that the right policies and technical measures were in place, such as encrypting laptops. Where individual error was to blame, the council has followed up with disciplinary and training action and in some cases this has led to dismissal.”
Mr Pickles said: "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.”
To find out more visit www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk
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