‘Worst’ council for data breaches defends record

Buckinghamshire County Council, revealed yesterday as the council that reported the most data breaches in the last three years, says that rather than being the worst offender, it is simply the victim of its own "scrupulous" reporting practices.

A report published yesterday by Big Brother Watch, based on Freedom of Information requests to every council in the country, found the Buckinghamshire County Council reported 72 data breaches from August 2008 to August 2011, more than any other.

But speaking to the Bucks Free Press newspaper, the council said that the figure simply reveals that it has a broad definition of ‘data breach’.

"These figures relate to breaches of data, rather than loss of data and are, in fact, indicative of the scrupulous recording mechanisms we have in place," said council cabinet member Peter Cartwright. "Of the 72 data breaches cited, 68 were minor breaches, which a great many authorities would not record at all."

Other councils that ranked highly in the Big Brother Watch report also have defended themselves.

Renfrewshire Council, the worst record in Scotland according to the report, told the BBC that it is "important to place these figures in context as not every council has responded to the question from Big Brother Watch in the same way."

A spokesperson for Telford & Wrekin, one of the ten worst councils in the BBW report, said: "While we can only speculate, we know that 39 authorities did not respond to the [survey] at all and 263 reported no data losses.”

The ICO told Information Age that it encourages local authorities to report every single breach of the data protection internally, including very minor breaches or near misses.

"We would say that some of the councils are not recording their data losses and they should be doing this internally," a spokesperson said. "That’s why we’re asking for compulsory audit powers."

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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