A quicker way to access info?

One way to access official information is to send a carefully worded freedom of information request. Another is to read a classified dossier on a commuter train, buy a stolen NHS computer or explore a government disc that might reach you by post any day now. More and more FOI requests are exposing the extent of data breaches in public bodies that handle sensitive information.

A Daily Telegraph article about the topless nurse who posed for pictures on hospital wards, says: “Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act from 162 PCTs, hospital trusts and NHS authorities showed that there had been 557 incidents of lost data and 794 breaches of confidentiality since January 2007.”

The Lincolnshire Echo tells a similar story about NHS data breaches: “In total, nine data breaches were recorded by Lincolnshire health services between January 2007 and August this year, according to information released to health journal Pulse under the Freedom of Information Act.”

Also through FOI, the Oxford Mail discoverd that three laptops were stolen from Thames Valley Police Staff between August 2006 and August 2008. Perhaps even more significantly:

“Police would not release statistics about police mobile phones or computer disks lost or stolen.”

So the true loss is likely much greater.

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