The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has blasted three local councils for failing to safeguard the personal information of 9,000 children.
The London Borough of Barnet, West Sussex County Council and Buckinghamshire County Council have all been criticised by the ICO for losing the personal details of thousands of children under their care.
Sally-Anne Poole, enforcement group manager at the ICO, said the three councils had shown little regard for the importance of protecting children’s personal information.
“It is essential that councils ensure the correct preventative safeguards are in place when storing and transferring personal information, especially when it concerns sensitive information relating to children,” she said.
“A lack of awareness and training in data protection requirements can lead to personal information falling into the wrong hands.”
In the case of the London Borough of Barnet, the theft of CDs and an unencrypted, non-password protected USB stick containing details of 9,000 children were stolen from an employee’s home.
An unencrypted laptop containing an undisclosed amount of information involving childcare proceedings was stolen from the home of a West Sussex council worker.
Following an enquiry by the ICO, the employee was found to have received no formal data protection training, and a further 2,300 unencrypted laptops were found in use within the council.
Buckingham County Council was slammed after a social worker lost a report containing sensitive data relating to two children at Heathrow Airport.
The ICO confirmed the councils have all signed formal undertakings for breaching the Data Protection Act, promising that all employees will be made aware of council policies relating to the storage and use of personal data in the future.
Poole added: “Breaches involving such large numbers of children and family members could easily have been avoided. I am pleased that all of the councils have now taken or proposed action to prevent against further data breaches.”
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