Four data breaches at district council

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News

Four reported data breaches occurred at Mid Sussex District Council in a three-year period from 2011 to 2014.

According to a report by Big Brother Watch, an organisation that aims to challenge policies threatening privacy, freedom and civil liberties, anti-social behaviour details for a young offender were put through the door by an external agency, despite being told to only hand it to the recipient.

The other incidents involved a residents’ benefit assessment sent to someone else, personal details added to the council’s website before being removed, and an email being sent to multiple personal email addresses.

Jonathan Ash-Edwards, MSDC’s cabinet member for finance and service delivery, said: “We take data protection seriously and I want to assure local people that your data is safe with us.We handle many thousands of transactions every week and regrettably, on rare occasions, errors are made. In such cases, we always carry out a thorough investigation and make sure we put in place measures to prevent their reoccurrence.

“In three years we have had four breaches and, whilst each one is important, they represent a tiny fraction of our customer contacts each year.”

Emma Carr, a director at BBW, said: “Far more could be done to prevent and deter data breaches from occurring. Better training, reporting procedures and harsher penalties available for the most serious of data breaches, including criminal records and custodial sentences are all required.

“Until we see these policies implemented, the public will simply not be able to trust local councils with their data.”