US firm loses data on three million UK learner drivers

December 18th, 2007 - 2:16 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec.18 (ANI): An American firm has reportedly lost the personal details of three million British learner drivers.
British Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly announced the latest data loss to MPs in the Commons on Monday, adding that the blunder had taken place in the month of May.
The disclosure followed a statement to MPs by Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, on the loss of the personal details of 25 million child benefit recipients by HM Revenue and Customs.
According to The Scotsman, Kelly told the Commons that names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and fees paid for tests were among some of the details which had been mislaid.
However, she said the data did not include personal information such as credit card or bank details.
The data held on a hard disk was lost by Pearson Driving Assessments Limited, a private contractor to the Driving Standards Agency, based in Iowa in the US, Kelly said.
Kelly said the information on the disk was unlikely to be readily accessible to third parties, as it had been formatted specifically to fit the private contractors’ systems.
She added that Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, believed the risk of fraud was relatively low because the information did not include any bank or credit card details.
But Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ acting leader, said: “If data and valuable information is consistently lost or stolen or abused, the public lose confidence in government in general at all levels.
Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “This latest debacle shows a systemic failure within the government’s data protection controls. The words ‘Labour’ and ‘incompetence’ are now synonymous.”
Dr David Everett, principal consultant at data security specialists Microexpert, said: “The explanations the government are giving for the mistakes are not credible.
Anyone who sat a driving theory test between September 2004 and April 2007 could be affected by the loss of the disk.
Kelly yesterday announced a series of security measures for the Drivers Vehicle Licensing Agency and her department.
She said that data would mostly be transmitted electronically from now on rather than sent by courier.
The databases of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea and the Driver and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland will be merged, removing the risk that led to the data loss earlier this month. (ANI)

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