The Nursing and Midwifery Council has been fined £150,000 for the loss of three DVDs which contained personal information.
According to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the DVDs contained confidential personal information and evidence from two vulnerable children and the ICO investigation found that the information was not encrypted.
It said that the DVDs stored witness interviews and the data controller said that these often would contain sensitive personal data, yet there was no policy requiring encryption of data either while it was held at the offices or during transit. Despite the packages arriving at the intended destination, the DVDs were and still remain missing.
David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of data protection at the ICO, said: “It would be nice to think that data breaches of this type are rare, but we're seeing incidents of personal data being mishandled again and again. While many organisations are aware of the need to keep sensitive paper records secure, they forget that personal data comes in many forms, including audio and video images, all of which must be adequately protected.
“I would urge organisations to take the time today to check their policy on how personal information is handled. Is the policy robust? Does it cover audio and video files containing personal information? And is it being followed in every case? If the answer to any of those questions is no, then the organisation risks a data breach that damages public trust and a possible weighty monetary penalty.
“The Nursing and Midwifery Council's underlying failure to ensure these discs were encrypted placed sensitive personal information at unnecessary risk. No policy appeared to exist on how the discs should be handled, and so no thought was given as to whether they should be encrypted before being couriered. Had that simple step been taken, the information would have remained secure and we would not have had to issue this penalty.”