Our local governments hold a wealth of information about us.
Due to how much information they have on us, data breaches from local government organisations can be a major concern. One of the most frustrating things about local government data leaks is that we are required to share so much of our personal information with them that it makes even small vulnerabilities a huge problem.
Unlike businesses, where we arguably have more of an option when it comes to how much of our personal information we chose to share with them, when it comes to sharing information with our government, it is often a necessity, and can be some of our most personal information indeed.
As we hand over more and more personal data, we expect it to be kept secure – but this is not always the case.
A breach of trust
Privacy campaigner Big Brother Watch investigated how often our local authorities would have breached data laws.
In a three year period between 2011 and 2014, Big Brother Watch found that at least 4,236 data breaches had taken place. Many breaches occurred due to human error such as poor training or staff not knowing the full extent of their responsibilities.
With so many data breaches taking place, there can also a lack of proper punishment for those who breach data laws. In the three year study, there was over 400 instances of theft or loss, but only a one person ever faced a criminal sanction, and only 50 were dismissed.
Need for a change
We should be able to trust our government with our data – especially for the amount of information we hand over to them. There should be tougher sanctions and more stringent training in place.
Data protection training isn’t always as robust as it ought to be, but one recommendation by Big Brother Watch is to make sure that every staff member that has access to our personal data has proper mandatory training. Further recommendations included custodial sentences for a serious data breach; individuals who cause data breaches facing custodial sentences; and the mandatory reporting of breaches if it concerns a member of the public.
The report acknowledges that data breaches can never fully be eradicated, but by implementing the recommendations from the report, it can significantly reduce the chance of a data breach.
Can I claim?
If you have had your data breached by the local government then you could be entitled to compensation. You do not have to have financially or psychologically suffered in order to make a claim – the fact that a data breach has happened can be enough to be able to make a claim.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds can be claimed in compensation if you have suffered a data breach, so if you have been the victim of a data breach, we urge you to get in contact us if you need our help. We may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.
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