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Importance of information security

Data protection - we've all heard about it, but do we really know our responsibilities when it comes to keeping information safe and secure?

These pages outline the importance of treating confidential data safely and show the policies and procedures we have in place to ensure this happens.

We all use information on a daily basis and most of us will come into contact with other people's personal or sensitive data at some point.

Whether that's just names, ages and addresses or highly sensitive details of their medical or social care history, it all needs to be dealt with properly.

Look after personal data

Lost, stolen or leaked data can have serious consequences for the council, our employees and the public.

Recent high profile mistakes that other councils have made include lost USB sticks, confidential information dumped in skips and laptops left on trains.

Privacy breaches can lead to fines, bad press, damaged reputation, loss of trust and for employees possible disciplinary action. That's why it is in all of our interests to handle data safely.

Data privacy is relevant to, and the responsibility of everyone who works for us.

We have a good track record for protecting our residents' personal information - but we need to make sure this carries on.

A split-second is all it takes to break data protection laws. An employee responsible for a breach could face disciplinary action or fines - even if it was accidental.

Breaching the Data Protection Act can also lead to huge fines for us of up to half a million pounds - that's money we wouldn't be able to spend on providing services and protecting jobs.

Recent examples of penalties for breaching data protection have included:

  • North East Lincolnshire Council was fined £80,000 when an employee lost an unencrypted USB stick containing personal and sensitive data
  • Aberdeen City Council was fined £100,000 when an employee uploaded 4 documents which contained sensitive personal data that related to her work to a website on the internet
  • Islington Borough Council was fined £70,000 after accidentally sharing sensitive data through pivot sheets in Microsoft Excel
  • Glasgow City Council was fined £150,000 after 2 unencrypted laptops were stolen from offices
  • Halton Borough Council was fined £70,000 after a clerical worker sent a covering letter to a birth mother showing her adopted child’s adoptive parents’ home address

That's why it's in everyone's interests to make sure that we get it right.

Remember - somebody somewhere is handling your information.