Councils lose & abuse citizens’ data thousands of times, watchdog reveals

Privacy rights campaigners are demanding that UK council staff face prosecution after an investigation revealed government employees stole, lost or inappropriately accessed citizens’ sensitive material over 4,000 times.

A study by Big Brother Watch, published on Tuesday, revealed councils recorded 4,236 data breaches over a three-year period from April 2011 to April 2014 – a rate of nearly four a day.

In one case, sensitive information about children and sex offenders was left on a train, while in another an employee at Thanet Council in Kent was fired after accessing benefit claim records “inappropriately.”

The privacy watchdog criticized councils for their “shockingly lax attitudes to protecting confidential information.”

Researchers at the campaign group based their study on a slew of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests sent to all local authorities in the UK.

They discovered that fewer than one in 10 council workers were punished for privacy breaches, while staff resigned in 39 cases and 50 employees were dismissed.

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