The top 10 public sector data losses - so far

09 Sep 2008 View Comments
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The top 10 public sector data losses – so far

November 2007: 25 million parents and children

HM Revenue & Customs lost two CDs containing child benefit records for 25 million people, including the bank details of 7.25 million families - the worst data security breach in UK history.

December 2007: Three million learner drivers

A US-based IT contractor "lost" the records of three million British learner drivers. Transport secretary Ruth Kelly was forced to confess to the security breach in a statement to MPs. She said Pearson Driving Assessments, a private contractor to the Driving Standards Agency had informed the agency that a hard disk drive had gone missing from its secure facility in Iowa City, Iowa.

January 2008: 600,000 military personnel and potential recruits

The Ministry of Defence lost a laptop containing the personal details of 600,000 people after it was stolen from the car of a junior Royal Navy officer.

August 2008: 84,000 prisoners

All UK prisoners became victims of information security failure, after Home Office contractor PA Consulting lost their details while moving a memory stick between computers. The device contained names, addresses, dates of birth and release dates of 84,000 prisoners, all of whom could sue for compensation.

December 2007: 6,000 car owners

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Northern Ireland lost two discs containing details of more than 6,000 car owners. The discs went missing after being posted to the DVLA head office in Swansea. The data was not encrypted, and included details of vehicle ownership but no financial information. The agency also admitted to sending confidential information by post to the wrong people, affecting about 100 drivers.

September 2008: 5,000 prison staff

Justice minister Jack Straw ordered an inquiry into the loss of a portable hard drive containing the details of 5,000 prison staff. The disc was lost by IT supplier EDS, which has successfully bid to be part of the National Identity Card programme.

June 2008: Several thousand NHS patients

An unencrypted laptop containing medical details of several thousand patients was stolen from the car of a senior Colchester University Hospital manager. The details included names, dates of birth, postcodes and treatment plans.

April 2008: Citizens in 13 London boroughs

Thirteen London councils failed to protect personal information on citizens during the last year, according to a BBC survey. The guilty respondents to a Freedom of Information request said that data has been either lost, stolen or " inadvertently disclosed." In two separate incidents four months apart, workers at Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council took information on vulnerable childr en into bars, where it was stolen. And in October 2007, 375 student files were stolen from Havering Council.

August 2008: Various children and families

A laptop and several memory sticks containing personal information about children and their families were stolen from a vehicle involved with the production of a BBC TV programme. The information included names, addresses and mobile phone numbers of children, and dates when families were planning to go on holiday. The broadcaster said the vehicle was owned by a contracted company making a programme for children's channel CBBC.

June 2008: One cabinet minister

A cabinet minister became embroiled in a government data security scandal with the theft of a computer from the constituency office of communities secretary Hazel Blears. The machine, said to contain sensitive data relating to her constituency work and that of her department, was stolen from her constituency office in Salford.

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