Ministry of Justice loses personal details of 45000 people

The government department tasked with making policies on data protection has admitted that it mislaid or lost the personal details of 45,000 people.

Annual records for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show the data were on documents and computers before vanishing in nine separate incidents in the past financial year. The laptop at the centre of the last incident, in January 2008, contained 14,000 people’s details but was “inadequately protected” before it was lost from a “secured” building.

It was loaded with the names, addresses and dates of births of fine defaulters, of whom 20% were also identified by their national insurance numbers.

Officials told the police but failed to notify anyone in June, when, in another incident, the personal details of 27,000 people were leaked by “inadequately protected” computer discs.

Names, addresses and bank details of the department’s contractor staff were lost, and remain lost, yet no steps were taken to alert the police or the victims of the “unauthorised disclosure.”

Explaining their inaction, officials said disclosing an incident could “create an unacceptable risk of harm,” and may breach data laws such as the Freedom of Information Act

Government loses 45,000 people's details (Contractor UK, 18 August 2008)