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Giant Databases, A Risk for Millions Of UK Citizens, Says Information Commissioner

Nearly 280 serious data breaches have been recorded by the authority in charge of making sure individuals' data is protected and to make it worse, less than a quarter of that number were down to stolen devices.

Most of the data losses reported came from the public sector with the NHS accounting for more than a quarter of the sum and could possibly become worse with the setting up of giant centralised databases.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, said that the more databases are setup and information transiting from one to another, the more likely that something will ultimately go wrong.

He also remarked that the number of data breaches has not diminished since last years data bungle which saw 25 million child benefit records lost and despite the government's commitment to solve what many have considered as a systemic failing.

Speaking about the risks associated with data breaches, Mr Thomas said that this could cost human lives or wreck people's livelihoods.

His comments come hours after the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, adamantly said that the plans to implement the mother of all databases - a gigantic database that will log phone calls, texts and internet sessions in a bid to fight crime and terrorism - has been given the go-ahead.

In hindsight, the bulk of data breaches were caused more by carelessness within the organisation and not by a targeted criminal attacks - which would effectively make matters much, much worse.

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.