Page last updated at 22:04 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Ministers attacked on lost laptop

A laptop
Gordon Brown has pledged to get a grip on the issue of data loss

The Home Office has been accused of "complacency" about data security after it gave out contradictory figures for departmental laptops lost or stolen.

It had to apologise after immigration minister Phil Woolas inadvertently gave out incorrect data for laptops and mobiles which went missing last year.

Officials said different figures issued by security minister Lord West earlier this year were, in fact, accurate.

A series of recent government data losses have embarrassed ministers.

'No grip'

In August, a government contractor lost a memory stick containing the personal details of tens of thousands of criminals.

After another memory stick with user names and passwords for a key government computer system was found in a pub car park last month, Gordon Brown said he was "determined" to root out breaches in how sensitive data is handled.

In a written Commons answer, Mr Woolas said that 29 Home Office laptops and two mobile phones had either been lost or stolen in 2007.

It is truly staggering that the Home Office is incapable of accurately answering a question about their own department
Paul Holmes, Lib Dem home affairs spokesman

Earlier this year, Lord West put the figure at 15 for missing laptops and 47 for missing phones.

The Home Office said the figures given by Mr Woolas were "unfortunately" wrong and would be corrected since they included information from areas no longer part of the department.

But opposition parties said the confusion was symptomatic of the government's complacent attitude to data handling.

"Not only does the government not have a grip of the problem, it does not even know the scale of the problem," said shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve.

"The government cannot combat the threat of data loss if it cannot even measure it."

For the Lib Dems, its home affairs spokesman Paul Holmes said the Home Office was guilty of "incompetence, complacency and carelessness".

"It is truly staggering that the Home Office is incapable of accurately answering a question about their own department," he said.

"If they are as slapdash with their own information, how are people supposed to trust them with their personal and sensitive data."



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Minister 'sorry' for lost papers
02 Nov 08 |  UK Politics

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific