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Camden New Journal - By PAUL KEILTHY
Published: 3 April 2008
Children’s details on stolen laptop

DETAILS of Camden’s most vulnerable children and adults were among unencrypted data lost with the theft of council computers, the New Journal has learnt.
Among eight computers lost or stolen since January 2007, two contained documents and emails relating to special educational needs (SEN) children and to the work of the social inclusion and behaviour team with troubled teenagers.
The losses are revealed in records released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The council has not been able to state how many children and residents were potentially exposed by the thefts of a SEN laptop in October last year and an iPAQ hand-held computer in February containing “work-related” emails connected to the social inclusion and behaviour team. It has described the number as “limited”.
The Town Hall is reviewing its data security as a result of the thefts.
IT specialists increasingly demand that sensitive information on portable devices like laptops should be encrypted, according to Professor Fred Piper from the University of London’s Royal Holloway Information Security Group.
He said: “The Data Protection Act says information has to be given adequate protection, but nobody specifies what adequate is. As a working rule, if you are putting sensitive information on a machine to which other people could have access, you should be protecting it. There should be clear, strict guidelines to staff in these circumstances.”
Among the six other devices stolen was an iPAQ and two laptops. The council said neither contained personal data about staff or residents.
The Freedom of Information disclosure also revealed that, of the six complaints by residents of breaches of data protection laws by the council that were investigated in the last year, five were fully or partially upheld. Three residents received compensation.
One resident complained he had been filmed on CCTV while in a public toilet, forcing the council to change the signs outside conveniences to warn users they could be watched.
A council press official said: “Camden Council regrets that the recent theft of electronic equipment caused a breach of confidential data. We would like to reassure the public that we have increased security of council premises, electronic encryption codes of confidential records and staff handling of this information.”
Technical counter-measures are being implemented to protect information, including improved network security and the encryption of information on hand-held devices.

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