Six fines issued for data breaches

 

Six public bodies were fined over personal data security breaches
in the last year despite hundreds of reported cases, a report said
today.

One of the biggest penalties went to Midlothian Council as it was fined £140,000 for sending details on children and their carers to the wrong people five times within 12 months.

Some 281 of the 730 reported breaches were a result of human error, with emails being sent by mistake and documents being sent to the wrong address, figures from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) showed.

A further 170 were due to data or hardware being stolen and another 108 were as a result of it being lost.

The figures, published by security firm ViaSat following a Freedom of Information Act request, also found 433 of the reported cases had yet to be decided.

Overall, staff in private firms appeared to be the worst offenders, accounting for more than a third (263) of reported breaches between between March 22 last year and February 17.

Healthcare providers including the NHS were responsible for 178 reported breaches, while councils and other local government organisations reported 166.

But the ViaSat report said that of the 297 cases reported and resolved within the time period, just six resulted in fines.

These included Midlothian Council, where children's social service reports were sent to the wrong recipients between January and June last year, causing "serious upset" to children's families.

The ICO's investigation found that all five breaches could have been avoided if the council had put adequate data protection policies, training and checks in place.

The council said at the time there was no evidence anyone had been put at risk and it "immediately took steps to retrieve the information, or have it destroyed, and voluntarily reported ourselves to the Information Commissioner".

No private firms or healthcare providers were fined.

A further 32 reports led to undertakings being signed and 259 resulted in neither fines nor undertakings.

Chris McIntosh, of ViaSat, said: "It is wholly disconcerting that those data breaches which should be easily avoidable are now the most commonplace.

"While the message on data protection may be getting through to the heads of organisations, there is no point in having these measures in place if workers don't follow them."

An ICO spokesman said: "Civil monetary penalties (CMPs) are part of a range of options that we use to protect the privacy rights of individuals, and ensure that organisations comply with the Data Protection Act (DPA).

"We can only issue CMPs where strict criteria are met - where the breach has caused substantial damage or distress to individuals or has the potential to do so, and in instances where the organisation was, or should have been, aware of the risk of a breach and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it.

"We will always consider a CMP whenever these criteria are met, regardless of the sector the organisation falls into."

He went on: "Effective regulation is about getting the best result in the public interest.

"There are several types of enforcement action we can take, all of which help drive compliance with the DPA. The course we choose will always depend on the circumstances of the individual case."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Multi Drop Driver

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This food distribution company ...

Recruitment Genius: Yards Person

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Yards person required for fencing and landscap...

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Nurse and Room Leader - Hackney

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...

Recruitment Genius: Agency Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent