Reckless data loss a criminal offence?

In the wake of Revenue & Customs' child benefit debacle and recent problems at the Ministry of Defence, MPs on a parliamentary justice select committee have called for the reckless loss of computer data and personal information to be made a crime. The committee, headed by Liberal Democrat MP Alan Beith, said organisations should be obliged to report losses, and he expressed concern at 'evidence of a widespread problem within the government'.

'The UK government could learn a thing or two from the US approach to data handling,' said Richard Stone, vice president of marketing with Credant Technolgies.

In the US, many states have enacted 'data breach notification' legislation. This forces organisations that lose unencrypted personal identifiable information, such as credit card numbers, to notify everyone who's likely to be affected.

'It is time for the UK government to follow this lead,' suggested Stone.

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