Backup and Storage

Could mobile access to council websites present a data threat?

Councils may have to be even more careful with data if more traffic is coming from mobiles.

Local authorities might have to take a bit more care over data protection, new figures that drew our attention this week suggest.

Socitm, the society of IT managers, carried out a poll and found that there is now an incredibly high demand for mobile access to council websites, something that has come about as more people start to carry out tasks while they travel on trains and wait for buses.

Indeed, Socitm discovered that almost a quarter of hits on portals owned by local authorities during the first three months of hits year came from devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The organisation collects surveys from users of these websites in order to monitor their use and how people rate them, something it has been doing for almost a decade.

A mobile version of the survey has been added and it looks like it’s already proving popular.

"These early results make clear the high level of demand for access to council websites from mobiles," commented Socitm’s Martin Greenwood.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 16 per cent of the visits made by those on mobile devices involved schools or youth services, suggesting it is young people who are making the most of their phones to find information about things like school closures.

Rubbish and recycling and leisure also ranked highly, whereas websites related to planning or council tax were not visited by mobile devices as frequently.

However, we are wondering if councils have been considering this information when organising their data protection methods.

Earlier this year, the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said at a meeting of MPs that he was keen to introduce compulsory data protection audits for local councils in a bid to protect sensitive information, BBC News reported.

He claimed this would prevent so much information "being sent to the wrong fax machine or dropped in the street or left on an unencrypted memory stick", something he described as "really basic stupid errors".

It suggests enough data is already being lost without adding mobile protection to the mix.

Security breaches could be avoided with electronic document storage in the cloud, so perhaps councils could look into this to help keep services convenient for users without putting them at risk.