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  • ICO starts monitoring of Publication Schemes

    Posted on May 13th, 2009 admin 1 comment

    The Information Commissioner has revealed details of those authorities who have received a ticking off for their Publication Schemes.

    In January the Commissioner issued new guidance for authorities in relation to their Publication Schemes and said there would be a system put in place to ensure everybody was coming up to standard.

    Following a Freedom of Information request to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) we now have a few more details of what that actually means. (link)

    The first section that the ICO intends to monitor is central Government. The surveillance which started on April 20 will last for around four weeks and then a report will be prepared around mid-June.

    After that it would appear that the ICO will move on to different sectors - I’m afraid I didn’t ask for a list to see who was top and bottom of the monitoring list. But from that timescale I presume that if you are a sector at the bottom it could well be well in 2010 before the ICO starts clicking on your website.

    However, the ICO did reveal that a number of public authorities have been written to since January to get a telling off about their publication scheme. These organisations are Staffordshire Primary Care Trust, Royal Mail, Lancashire Police (please see comment), South Wales Police, Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission and the City and County of Swansea.

    The ICO also said that the issue of improving the Publication Scheme had been raised verbally with Leeds City Council and the Metropolitan Police.

    So remember the ICO is watching.

  • Password blunder blamed for prison data breach

    Posted on April 17th, 2009 admin No comments

    The missing memory card mysteriously vanished in the prison

    The missing memory card mysteriously vanished in the prison

    Another health trust has been blamed for losing the sensitive medical details of its patients - this time the records of 6,360 prisoners and ex-prisoners which were put on to a memory stick.


    The health trust in question - NHS Central Lancashire - has blamed the mistake on “human error”. Its report into the matter found that the memory stick was encrypted but the password was written on a note attached to the card.

    The USB stick was being used to back up clinical databases at HMP Preston when it was lost on 30 December. Despite a search the stick has not been found.

    NHS Central Lancashire said procedures on data security had not been adhered to but that it had now taken action to remind staff of their responsibilities.

    Prisoner surnames, their broad age range, prison number, cell location, prison clinic appointment times and review dates were all included in the information.

    An “immediate and urgent” review of data policies was undertaken to ensure consistency regarding the use of USBs after the incident, the trust said.

    All data sticks across the PCT were recalled and staff were reminded how to handle personal and sensitive information of patients and employees.

    The Trust’s chief executive Joe Rafferty said: “There was a failure in the system which led to this incident happening and we have taken steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

    “We are pleased that the Information Commissioner’s Office has recognised the swift action taken by NHS Central Lancashire following the information security breach and that, as a result, at present no formal action will be taken.”

    Editor’s note: Yet another example of a health trust managing to lose its patients’ data (see previous post ‘Carers careless…..). I suspect they will not learn until somebody sues them for it, and then they will realise there are financial implications to their incompetence. For an example of how even a relatively small health trust will try to spin the facts have a look at its press release (link). Please post any suggestions that the password might have been. Fletch? Porridge? Doh?