Government savaged over data protection record

Government savaged over data protection record

Joint Committee on Human Rights criticises "lax standards"

The government has come in for renewed criticism over its handling of sensitive data, after a new report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights today warned that recent data loss incidents are "symptomatic of lax standards".

The report pointed to the "government's persistent failure to take data protection safeguards sufficiently seriously", adding that incidents such as the HMRC's loss of 25 million child benefit records, have heightened concerns over plans for a National ID Register.

Today's report should act as a wake-up call to a government "which continues to disrespect the importance of protecting personal data", said Brian Spector of data security firm Workshare.

The government's credibility in safeguarding sensitive information is in tatters, said Craig Whitney, European managing director of email encryption firm Tumbleweed Communications, and it would take monumental effort to rebuild trust.

"Government regulators cannot hand out fines with a straight face to their constituents when they are one of the worst offenders. There are some very good guidelines and legislation in place on how organisations in possession of confidential data need to handle that data – these need to be implemented, followed, and enforced," he said.

The Joint Committee report comes just days after an investigation by online identity firm Garlik revealed that most government departments have never been independently audited to check for compliance with the Data Protection Act.