Digital Transformation

ICO serves fine for publishing sensitive data online

A large fine has been issued to Aberdeen City Council after an incident involving data protection.

A local authority in Scotland has been issued with a fine by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after accidentally publishing the details of vulnerable children online.

The mistake happened back in November 2011, when an employee at Aberdeen City Council who was working from home accessed documents including meeting minutes and detailed reports via their own PC.

Unbeknown to them, a file transfer program was active and this automatically moved the information to a website, where it was published.

The documents remained there until February 2012, when a fellow employee was looking for paperwork relating to their job title online and stumbled across them.

After it was notified, the ICO carried out a thorough investigation and found that Aberdeen City Council had no home working policy in place and had not adequately protected against the downloading of sensitive information from the intranet by staff.

It was therefore issued with a fine of £100,000. Assistant commissioner for Scotland at the ICO Ken Macdonald said: "We would urge all social work departments to sit up and take notice of this case by taking the time to check their home working setup is up to scratch."

Indeed, with around 3.1 million people now working from home in the UK on a regular basis, this could be an important thing for any business with telecommuters to do in order to protect their sensitive data from being seen by prying eyes.

If the proper measures are not taken and an incident occurs, the ICO will not hesitate to prosecute any business or organisation that makes even genuine mistakes.

Earlier in 2013, the now-defunct NHS Surrey was fined £200,000 after it was found to have allowed old computers containing public data to go up for sale.

The old machines were supposed to have been wiped clean beforehand, but this had not been properly carried out and members of the public were able to see confidential information.