The £80,000 penalty served by the Information Commissioner’s Office on North East Lincolnshire Council is yet another reminder of the need to train employees about the confidentiality and protection of personal data. Sensitive information about 286 children with special educational needs was stored on an unencrypted memory stick left in a laptop at the Council’s offices by a teacher. The memory stick went missing when the teacher left the laptop unattended. While the Council had introduced a policy of encrypting portable devices, it failed to make sure all of the memory sticks currently being used by staff were encrypted. The Council was also unable to confirm if the teacher had received data protection training at the time of the loss. The ICO confirmed that all organisations must recognise that personal data stored on laptops, memory sticks and other portable devices must be encrypted and that the breach should act as a warning that data protection policies must work in practice, otherwise they are meaningless.
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