Manchester Council Lambasted Over Unencrypted Lost Laptops

Yet another case of data loss by a government body has come into the limelight after Manchester City Council has been found in breach of the Data Protection Act over the theft of a couple of unencrypted laptops containing crucial details of employees at local schools.

One of the laptops held personal details of as many as 1,754 employees, such as teachers and teaching assistants, at different local schools. In a statement this week, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) condemned the council for mishandling of personal info, and for straight forward violation of Data Protection Act.

The Information Watchdog further notified that neither of the laptops were encrypted or secured to desk. Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, has penned a formal undertaking pledging that all laptops in the council and other removable devices would be encrypted.

The council head further vowed to employ security policies implying that laptops and other computing devices would either be secured to desks or locked away. Sally-Anne Poole, chief of investigations & enforcements at ICO, said, “We urge all councils and their executive teams to take responsibility for treating data protection as a corporate governance issue affecting the entire organisation.

They have to make sure that safeguarding the personal information of their staff is embedded in their organisational culture”. Poole further went on to say that all organisation should implement adequate measures to ensure secured handling of personal details.

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Our Comments

This is another case of being wise after the event. The issue is made even worse by the fact that the laptop contained details of employees who work with young persons. The data on these laptops could eventually be used by criminals although the council has not revealed exactly the amount of details that were stored on it.

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