BCS: Gov't data breaches have eroded public trust

The British Computer Society has lashed out at the government, saying its poor data-control practices have harmed people's trust in information sharing

The British Computer Society has criticised the government, claiming its high-profile data breaches have eroded public trust.

On Tuesday the BCS published the results of a survey of members of the public. Of the 1,025 respondents, 66 percent said their trust in government departments had decreased due to information breaches such as the loss of 25 million personal records by HM Revenue & Customs last year.

David Evans, the BCS's government relations manager, told ZDNet.co.uk that BCS members within both the public and private sectors had also been alarmed.

"Within our membership there's quite a lot of anger over what has happened," said Evans. "People inside the public sector know [it] is not terribly surprising that [breaches such as HMRC's] happened, but for people outside the public sector this was a huge shock."

Evans said BCS members, and the BCS itself, had been "deeply concerned" about public-sector data control practices for many years. "We've been telling people this was going to happen," said Evans. "Information assurance needs to be properly sorted out for the idea of information sharing in the public sector to work."

"We want to find a way forward for information sharing without damaging public trust," Evans added.

The criticism follows a number of high-profile UK government data breaches recently, including the HMRC loss, numerous losses from the Ministry of Defence, and losses from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.