Government supplier axed over data loss

10 September 2008
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11 September 2008 | Jake Kanter

The government has terminated its contract with PA Consulting after the supplier lost "sensitive" data on prisoners.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith launched an inquiry into the incident at the end of August. It found PA Consulting had downloaded the data to a memory stick that later went missing and was not "encrypted or managed appropriately" (Web news, 8 September 2008). Smith said the incident was a "clear breach of the robust terms of the contract covering security and data handling".

Data transfers to PA Consulting were suspended immediately after the memory stick disappeared. The government now plans to review its other contracts with the supplier.

The lost information contained names of prisoners and details of priority offenders in custody, with some expected release dates. Smith explained the risk to public safety and the individuals concerned was low.

PA Consulting accepted responsibility for the incident. In a statement it said: "The loss of data on this project was caused by human failure, a single employee was in breach of PA's well established information security processes. We deeply regret this human failure and apologise unreservedly to the Home Office."


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