Pressure is mounting on the government to criminalise "reckless or repeated" breaches of data security in the wake of the latest loss
The Ministry of Justice admitted earlier this week that four CDs containing unencrypted personal information had gone missing "in the post" after being sent out by the courts administration.
Commons Justice Committee chairman Alan Beith said the blunder "underlines the need to urgently implement our recommendations for improved data protection and the introduction of criminal penalties for reckless or repeated loss of data ".
Beith said he as "extremely concerned at the potential serious risk to victims of crime and witnesses connected to criminal cases if their personal details have been lost and fall into the wrong hands, and the possibility of prejudice to any prosecutions".
In a report in the wake of the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) loss of 25 million people's data, the committee called for "quick implementation of the new enforcement powers for the Information Commissioner to conduct unannounced spot checks on government data systems, proper resources for the Commissioner and new reporting requirements on the loss of data".
Tory shadow justice minister Nick Herbert backed the call for "a new offence of reckless mishandling of personal data" and said the loss for the CDs " suggests a cavalier attitude to the handling of personal information by government agencies".
The discs went missing in December after they were delivered by Greater Manchester Police to the Inspectorate of Court Administration. A police spokesman sad they contained "routine material" on defendants and other restricted data and denied there was personal information on victims.
The loss emerged in the wake of the theft of a Royal Navy laptop from the car of a recruitment officer containing unencrypted data on 600,000 individuals and the admission that two earlier laptop losses had been covered up and not even reported to ministers.
Cabinet secretary Gus O'Donnell has since ordered civil servants with laptops containing accessible sensitive information not to take them out of their offices.
And in the Commons today, Treasury financial secretary Jane Kennedy confirmed that all personal information on HMRC CDs has to be encrypted before they can be removed from offices.