Nottingham County Council fined £70,000 for data leak

Series of locks on binary code with one unlocked

The ICO has hit Nottingham County Council with a 70,000 fine for failing to safeguard its citizens' data, which led to anyone being able to view the information online.

The problem was exposed when a member of the public was able to read the data online stored in the council's Home Care Allocation System (HCAS) following a Google search. Nottingham County Council didn't implement any kind of security to stop people being able to access files, such as a login.

The data, which is thought to have been accessible for over five years, held details on whether disabled and elderly people were in hospital and included the gender, addresses, postcodes and care requirements of the individuals. The concern was that criminals could access the data and use the information to break into peoples' homes while they were away.

"This was a serious and prolonged breach of the law. For no good reason, the council overlooked the need to put robust measures in place to protect people's personal information, despite having the financial and staffing resources available," ICO Head of Enforcement Steve Eckersley said.

"Given the sensitive nature of the personal data and the vulnerability of the people involved, this was totally unacceptable and inexcusable. Organisations need to understand that they have to treat the security of data as seriously as they take the security of their premises or their finances."

The breach was first reported in June 2016, when it contained a directory of 81 service users and the data of more than 3,000 people. Not included in the data was the patients' names, although the ICO said it would be easy enough for people to find this information out from other sources if they wanted to.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.