UK: ATL agrees to improve information security after thousands of union members’ personal details are stolen

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has found the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) in breach of the Data Protection Act after a laptop and memory stick were reported lost or stolen, containing the personal details of over 6,000 union members.

The laptop was the property of the ATL and contained the personal details of 6,282 union members; it was not encrypted but was password protected. The memory stick, which was not password protected or encrypted, belonged to a staff member and contained 3,366 of the same records on the laptop. Both devices, which included some sensitive personal data, were either lost or stolen from the roadside as an ATL member was packing his car.

ATL General Secretary, Mary Bousted, has now signed an Undertaking to ensure that by 28 February 2010 all portable and mobile devices used to store and transmit personal details are encrypted. The Undertaking also requires a review of the policy covering the transfer and storage of personal data. Staff will need to be made aware of this policy and prohibited from storing personal information on their own memory sticks.

Sally Anne-Poole, Head of Enforcement at the ICO, said: “I encourage organisations to prevent staff from downloading large amounts of personal data. It is vital that portable devices, including laptops and memory sticks are encrypted if they are used to store personal information. Staff members should not be allowed to keep people’s personal details, especially sensitive personal information, on their own memory sticks. I am pleased that the ATL is taking remedial steps to prevent a similar situation occurring again.”

A full copy of the Undertaking can be viewed here:

Source: Information Commissioner’s Office

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