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Lords backs amendment to data-loss law

The House of Lords has supported a change to the criminal justice and immigration bill which would make it a criminal offence to carelessly release or lose personal data
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Losing personal data took a step closer to becoming a criminal offence after the House of Lords backed a change in the law.

Peers supported an amendment to the criminal justice and immigration bill, which would make it a criminal offence to carelessly release or lose personal data.

The amendment, proposed by Liberal Democrat Lady Miller, would make it an offence for anyone to "intentionally or recklessly disclose information" or "repeatedly and negligently" allow information to be disclosed.

The amendment must be sanctioned by the House of Commons before it can become part of the bill.

It follows calls by the information commissioner Richard Thomas for the criminalisation of reckless data loss earlier this year.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said it would consider its position on making data loss a criminal offence following the Lords vote.

He said: "The government has previously acknowledged that it needs to improve trust and confidence in the arrangements to protect personal data and is currently in the process of doing this."

In light of this development, he added the government will now look at the most appropriate course of action.

The move towards outlawing the reckless loss of data follows silicon.com's campaign for full disclosure.

The issue of public data loss shot into the public eye with HMRC's loss of 25 million people's details on two CDs, which sparked a host of revelations about missing data in government.

Last week a government-sponsored report revealed the number of security breaches had fallen by a third in the past two years but that spending on security defences had tripled over the past six years.

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