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British PM Pledges Action On Data Protection

PM pledges action on data protection

Gordon Brown has promised that the Government will do everything in its power to ensure the protection of data following the loss of computer disks at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Speaking to MPs during Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Brown expressed his regret for the "inconvenienvce and worry" caused to members of the public and promised to find out why strict security procedures had not been followed. The details of families receiving child benefit throughout the UK went missing recently when an official at HMRC sent them on disks to the National Audit Office.

The PM said: "When mistakes happen in enforcing procedures we have a duty to do everything we can to protect the public...we will do everything in our power to make sure data is safe."

Mr Brown said that there was no evidence of any fraudulent activity occurring as a result of the loss and that the Banking Code would ensure that no financial losses occur should such activity take place.

The PM announced an independent review to be carried out by PriceWaterhouse Coopers to find out how the loss of data occurred. Security procedures at HMRC require that only authorised staff have access to sensitive information and that such information be encrypted when transported.

The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, has also been instructed to examine the implementation of data security measures across all departments as a result of the breach, while Information Commissioner Richard Thomas will be given the power to "spot check" departments and examine the quality of compliance.

Last month the Prime Minister asked Mark Walport, head of the Wellcome Trust, and the Information Commissioner to carry out a review of data and information security across the public and private sectors.


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