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Recently, the self-governed state of the Isle of Man reported that one of their government departments had been subject to a sensitive data leak.
A recording device was stolen from a secured room at the Department of Health and Social Care. The recording device was used to record sensitive meetings with children and families. The department have said that the recording was not often used and only ever done at the request of the service user.
Since the data leak, the people who have had their personal information breached have been notified. The department also notified the police who have started probing into the incident. The Isle of Man has its own Information Commissioner who will likely start their own investigations into the matter too.
Although the department insist that only two people were affected by the incident, it’s possible that more could be affected; in particular, the friends and family of the two victims. Data leaks aren’t just about the number of people directly affected though, as its impact can be endless.
For a simple data leak directly affecting one person, it can still have devastating consequences. That one person could have huge psychological injuries by becoming distressed, fearful and anxious. That could ruin their quality of life for as long as they live. People often forget that data leaks also affect those around the victims.
Data leaks are extremely hard to rectify too. The leak itself may never end, especially in the online world where anything can be shared worldwide in a matter of seconds. Psychological injury from data leaks can be hard to recover from as victims lose their faith in trusting anyone or anything, constantly fearing it might happen again.
Here, children were involved. Data breach cases concerning children can be seen as more sensitive, and may need to be handled more carefully. At an age where they can’t protect themselves adequately, we need to ensure we do everything we can to keep them safe. Hopefully the police will find the person responsible and stop any chance of further leaks.
The Isle of Man, as a self-governing crown dependent, has its own laws regarding data protection, but they are largely based on the UK’s own Data Protection Act and relevant European directives.
As of April 2004, the European Commission formally recognised that the Isle of Man’s data protection laws were up to European directive standard. This means that the Isle of Man is subject to the same data protection laws that we are: to have a legal obligation to protect personal information so that it is only ever used safely and is always stored securely to prevent breaches.
In having the recording device stolen from its premises, the Department of Health and Social Care has breached that duty and, if serious enough, they may have to answer to its Information Commissioner and may even be sanctioned for it.
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