HSE stolen laptop contains personal financial data

The laptop containing the data was one of 15 computers stolen from HSE offices in Roscommon town at the weekend.

The office of the Data Protection Commissioner was not informed of the incident by the HSE. It learned of the theft via media reports yesterday morning. It was at that point that the commissioner’s staff contacted the HSE seeking information.

The deputy data protection commissioner, Gary Davis, told The Irish Times he was “surprised and disappointed” at the HSE’s delay in reporting the matter. Mr Davis said the HSE had been at the centre of a number of cases last September in which data was lost on computers and other devices.

Despite assurances from the HSE’s chief executive Prof Brendan Drumm at that time that all computers would be encrypted, the incident at the weekend showed this had not happened.

“Protocols have been broken here and we are carrying out our own investigation,” Mr Davis said.

His agency had legal powers of enforcement involving a fine of €3,000 in all cases where data was lost or computers not encrypted. This avenue might now be explored in relation to the HSE.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said the executive had been waiting for an incident report to be compiled by its staff before informing the commissioner’s office.

One of the two non-encrypted laptops contained sensitive personal financial information on members of the public who had contacted community welfare officers. The second non-encrypted laptop contained slides for a staff presentation, which did not contain sensitive information. The other 13 laptops stolen were encrypted and could not be accessed by whoever stole them.


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