Skip to main content

Calls for government agency review of data security after GP Data loss

Security firm Cyber-Ark has called for an urgent review of data security arrangements at all levels of UK government, following the latest data loss, this time from a laptop used by a Welsh GP's surgery.

"This latest government agency fiasco centres on the theft of a laptop from a Newport GP's surgery in early November. Here we are, approaching six weeks after the event, and only now do we learn that the names, addresses, dates of birth and phone numbers of as many as 3,000 patients, many of whom are in poor health, have been lost," said Calum Macleod, Cyber-Ark's European director.

"This is latest in a rash of data loss incidents spanning a variety of government departments, ranging from HMRC in the North-East to the DVLA in Northern Ireland," he added.

According to Macleod, there now needs to be a roots, tree and branch review of government and government agency security arrangements, with the possible formation of a public sector version of the Information Commissioners' Office, creating agency policy and offering guidance.

"The Citizen's Charter of 1991 gives people the right to demand certain levels of service from the government and its agencies, but the problem with all these data losses is that people only get to know about the problem generally and after the event," Macleod said.

"Those people affected by the recent spate of data losses, including the seven million parents of children whose data was lost by the HMRC's incompetence, could sue the government, citing the fact that the Citizen's Charter has been broken," he added.

Macleod noted that legal action may be the only way to force the government to undertake a review of its data security arrangements and foster a more sensible approach to the issue.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.