Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Association rapped for losing tenant data

The information watchdog has taken action against a housing association that lost 57 files of data about its tenants.

The Information Commissioner’s Office found Orbit Heart of England to be in breach of the Data Protection Act, and the association has had to sign a formal undertaking to improve its processes.

The association lost the files, which contained sensitive personal information about individual tenants and their families, during an office move. It discovered the problem when it was contacted by an individual who had found some of the files in second-hand filing cabinets.

Orbit Heart of England has managed to recover 42 of the files, but 15 are still missing. The data contained in them includes information on ethnicity, and physical and mental health.

The ICO said Orbit took immediate steps to investigate the problem, reported the incident to its officers, and co-operated fully in the subsequent investigation. It noted that Orbit had no inventory of files, so did not know how many should be been received at the new office. Orbit has introduced a new office move procedure to address this.

Sally-Anne Poole, head of enforcement and investigations at the ICO, said: ‘These files included sensitive personal information which was compromised and it is concerning that 15 of these files are still missing.

‘I am pleased that the organisation reported the breach to us and has taken steps to ensure that data is now sufficiently protected, especially the enforcement of new procedures with regard to office moves.’

If Orbit does not comply with the terms of the undertaking it is likely to be subject to further enforcement action from the watchdog.

In a statement Orbit said: ‘OHE deeply regrets the breach of data security. We have used this incident as an opportunity to reassess our data security policies and procedures.

‘Our customers with whom we had contact expressed their disappointment but were satisfied that we had been open and honest and that the action we had taken and planned to take was appropriate.’

Readers' comments (38)

  • This sounds like a drop in the ocean compared to other government data losses.

    57 files going missing in reality is nothing compared to all the data on lost laptops and memory sticks that MPs and Civic Servants leave all over the place.

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  • "...If Orbit does not comply with the terms of the undertaking it is likely to be subject to further enforcement action from the watchdog."

    Like what? their salaries and bonuses are being paid anyway, so why should they care about anything.

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  • I hope that Orbit will compensate those individuals who had their personal data missing. Those missing data maybe in the hands of criminals.

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  • Kass I can't recall it ever being asked, but in what field of employment do you work? I'd just like to know what utopic role you carry out where no one has ever made a mistake, intentional or otherwise, you know in a "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" kind of way - or alternatively feel free to get defensive and deflect this query - or ask me a question without answering mine - it's OK I know the drill.......

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  • 'harry | Tue, 15 Dec 2009 22:01 GMT: I hope that Orbit will compensate those individuals who had their personal data missing.'
    they will get an apology and a £20 M&S vouvher if they are lucky.

    Harry Lime | Wed, 16 Dec 2009 08:51 GMT

    Kass does not answer questions, merely deflects them by spouting an accusation and then asking another question. Kass may be a politician...

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  • Kass - check the annual accounts - no bonuses are paid at Orbit.

    Harry/Melvin - I'm now convinced that 'Kass' is a fictitional character used by the website operator to stir up debate, but to be fair it works!!

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  • 'harry | Tue, 15 Dec 2009 22:01 GMT

    I hope that Orbit will compensate those individuals who had their personal data missing. Those missing data maybe in the hands of criminals.'

    They should get what government have offered to citizens affected by their huge data loss - oops! forgot that was zero. But hey have a go at RSL's regardless
    I think Kass works for private eye, hoping to get something juicy by being perpetually and consistently unable to ever see both sides of anything that ever happens in the housing world.
    Maybe if not working could really help in the voluntary sector - I do and its much more rewarding than carping criticism by email

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  • "Melvin Bone | Tue, 15 Dec 2009 16:01 GMT

    This sounds like a drop in the ocean compared to other government data losses.

    57 files going missing in reality is nothing compared to all the data on lost laptops and memory sticks that MPs and Civic Servants leave all over the place."


    So this is not serious enough for you and your like-minded housing professionals here?... Obviously it never crossed your minds that instead of 57 files, could have easily been thousands files lost?
    Besides that the tenants whose files has been lost here, it is no consolation that the files lost were 57 and not 57,000.

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  • I wonder what "missing" in this context means...

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  • Okay - so physical files disappeared. What a screw up. At least they contacted the right authorities immediately and didn't try and cover it up.

    Sadly no one in this world is perfect and accidents/mistakes happen. I'm sure there are people out there who say they have never ever made a mistake or caused anyone upset by their actions but I would guarantee they are wrong.
    Hopefully Orbit will recover the files and put minds at rest.

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