First fines issued over data protection breaches

A council was fined £100,000 by the privacy watchdog today for accidentally faxing highly sensitive information about cases involving child sex abuse and care proceedings to the wrong recipients on two occasions in the space of two weeks.

The Information Commissioner served the monetary penalty on Hertfordshire County Council for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act.

A separate fine of £60,000 was also imposed on employment services company A4e over the theft of a laptop containing personal information about 24,000 people who had used community legal advice centres in Hull and Leicester.

Hertfordshire County Council reported the breaches - which occurred in June when staff from the council's childcare litigation unit sent two faxes to the wrong recipients on two separate occasions - to the Information Commissioner's office.

After the first misdirected fax, which was meant for barristers' chambers, was sent to a member of the public, the council obtained a court injunction prohibiting disclosure of the details.

The second fax, sent 13 days later by a different employee, contained information relating to the care proceedings of three children, the previous convictions of two individuals, domestic violence records and care professionals' opinions.

Instead of going to Watford County Court, it was mistakenly sent to a barristers' chambers unconnected with the case.

In the A4e case, which also happened in June, the firm was punished for issuing an unencrypted laptop containing sensitive personal information including names, dates of birth, postcodes, income level and details of alleged criminal activity to an employee working from home in London, which was subsequently stolen.

As well as reporting the incident to the ICO, the company notified the people whose data could have been accessed.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: "It is difficult to imagine information more sensitive than that relating to a child sex abuse case.

"I am concerned at this breach - not least because the local authority allowed it to happen twice within two weeks.

"The laptop theft, while less shocking, also warranted nothing less than a monetary penalty as thousands of people's privacy was potentially compromised by the company's failure to take the simple step of encrypting the data."

A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council said: "We are sorry that these mistakes happened and have put processes in place to try to prevent any recurrence.

"We accept the findings of the Commissioner."

A4e chief executive Andrew Dutton said: "We fully accept today's judgment and will continue to co-operate with the ICO.

"We acted very swiftly after the incident in June, including making a voluntary report to the ICO. We alerted all customers, partners and relevant authorities affected and continue to update them.

"This incident occurred as a result of a breach of our security procedures. It also came at time when A4e was rolling out a new, robust, company-wide set of security controls and procedures.

"Our priority has always been, and remains, our customers and partners.

"We have apologised for any distress caused to those involved in this one-off incident in Hull and Leicester and we do so again today."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
News
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
music
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Sales, London

£70 - 95K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Head of Sales, Milton Keynes

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Head of Sales, Bristol

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Head of Sales, Birmingham

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game