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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Arts and Entertainment
music

News
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Sport
Sergio Aguero prepares for the game
football

Follow the latest events from this Champions League fixture

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
i100
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

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

IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

KS2 Teacher

£100 - £140 per day + Flexible with benefits: Randstad Education Group: Key St...

English Teacher (Full time from Jan - Maternity Cover)

£100 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: This good to outstanding school...

MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album