Learner Driver Data Lost

British Government loses more confidential data.

The latest lapse in security involves the loss of data for over 3 million learner drivers in the UK.

A hard drive, containing names, addresses, phone numbers and even some email addresses, disappeared from a supposedly ’secure facility’ at Pearson Driving Assessments Ltd in Iowa.

Fortunately, in this instance, the drive did not contain any financial data, such as credit card or bank account details.



The latest data faux pas was first discovered back in June, and reported to government minister Stephen Ladyman, who has since returned to the backbenches, and serves as another huge embarrassment for the Prime Minister.

The latest loss of sensitive data comes hot on the heels of similar security breaches involving the Child Benefit database and a similar incident at the DVLA.

Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, said she was not made aware of the latest incident until the 28th of November.

The details came to light when an audit of her Department’s security was carried out in response to the child benefit controversy.

Data fields

Kelly told MPs that the records contained on the hard drive include the learner-driver’s name, address, phone number, the test fee paid, their test centre, a code indicating how the test was paid for and their email address.

It would seem that the likelihood of identity theft may be less significant with this breach than the others, as no bank account or credit card details, driving licence numbers, National Insurance numbers or dates of birth were held on the disk.

According to Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers, the loss of the learner drivers’ details “shows a systemic failure within the Government’s data protection controls”.

“The words Labour and incompetence are now synonymous. Labour is failing in its duty to obey its own laws on data protection and failing in its primary and fundamental duty to protect the interests of the people it was elected to serve,” she said.

Political undercurrent?

It goes without saying that nobody is perfect and mistakes do happen.

Why, though, have there been 3 large security breaches involving government controlled data in the last month or so?

Personally, I can think of 3 possibilities, though there are probably more –

1. The Labour government really is incompetent.

2. Someone is trying to discredit the government, paving the way for a Conservative Party victory in the next election.

3. Those in power are demonstrating how easily data could fall into the wrong hands, thereby contributing to keeping the sheep population living in fear.

What are your views on why there is suddenly a huge problem with keeping confidential data secure in the UK?

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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