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Call for Immediate Action as Three Million Drivers Details Go Missing

The scale of recent data losses by the Brown government in the UK took a step into the unknown on Monday as Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly revealed that details of three million learner drivers have gone missing in the United States.

"Newswire reports suggest that the hard drive of a computer belonging to a driving standards agency contractor went missing in the US, but I am forced to ask what on earth were the details doing there in the first place and why we're only now learning about an incident that occurred seven months ago," said Calum Macleod, European director or Cyber-Ark.

"Information held in the UK and the rest of the European Union is subject to stringent data protection legislation. Outside of the UK, even in the US, it becomes something of a free-for-all and is subject to local country laws," he added.

According to Macleod, whilst the US has data protection legislation in place, most of the legislation relates to data held by US organisations.

"It's a legally untested area when it comes to international data, so it's very worrying indeed that name, address and telephone number data on millions of UK citizens is being handled by a processing centre in Iowa. This is government cost-cutting gone quite mad," he said.

"The potential for identity theft in this case, as well as the several others the government and its agencies have revealed in recent weeks, is quite breathtaking. If the government were a private company, their shareholders would have all but lynched them by now," he added.

Rather than be lynched Chancellor Alistair Darling in a statement to Parliament has approved urgent measures designed to prevent more humiliating government data losses.

However, according to Macleod, Darling's statement only partially addresses the astonishing array of data leaks and losses various government agencies have revealed in recent weeks.

"At the same time, I'm reiterating our call for a full-scale Inquiry into the litany of data losses the government and its agencies have suffered this year, and which are only now coming out of the woodwork," he said.

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.