UK Government data losses continue
As publicly disclosed in the Home Office's 2007-08 resource accounts, published on 8 August, 2008, – on page 20 – two CDs carrying data on 3,000 seasonal agricultural workers have gone missing in the post. The CDs, containing dates of birth, passport numbers, nationalities and workers names, were sent via normal post to the UK Border Agency by an external contractor.
A Home Office spokesperson said "This is not a Home Office data loss". Home Office procedures dictate that CDs should be sent special delivery and in this case the contractor was at fault. The CDs were at least password protected. The HO spokesperson went on to say "We have worked closely with the external contractor to ensure that all future transfers comply with agreed procedures. The incident was reported to the Information Commissioner and the contractor informed the individuals concerned."
The loss, now revealed by the publication of the resource accounts, occurred in March and was reported at the time to the Information Commissioner's Office. As a consequence of the incident the Home Office has now introduced mandatory encryption for all data sent by post and emphasised that all such transfers must be sent recorded delivery.