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TOP UK FIRMS IN PRIVACY BREACHES - WATCHDOG

Source: IOL

Posted on July 17, 2007

      Britain's information commissioner on Wednesday hit out at a number of banks and government departments for "horrifying" breaches of the country's data protection rules.

      Richard Thomas identified banks such as Barclays and NatWest, mobile phone giant Orange and the department of health and the Foreign Office for security lapses that allowed confidential personal data to be accessed by others.

      "The roll call of banks, retailers, government departments, public bodies and other organisations which have admitted serious security lapses is frankly horrifying," he said in his annual report.

      Thomas's office was set up to promote access to official information and protect personal information as well as take appropriate action when the law is broken.

      In the financial year April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007, it received nearly 24 000 enquiries and complaints about personal information issues, the report showed.

      Twelve high street banks were found guilty of discarding customers' details, including cut up credit cards, in unsecured bins in public places outside their premises.

      Call-centre staff at Orange were discovered to have shared computer log-ins, potentially allowing unauthorised employees to access customer information, while a decision is pending over a security breach at the Foreign Office.

      Online applications from people hoping to come to Britain from India were found to be unsecured, allowing personal details to be accessed.

      The department of health was also at the centre of a row earlier this year when it was found that online job applications by junior doctors could be accessed by anyone.

      Thomas told BBC radio Wednesday: "These (breaches) are inexcusable. None of this is really rocket science. Security is fundamental."




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