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Doctors may be prosecuted if their laptops are stolen




Doctors may be prosecuted if their laptops are stolen
Doctors may be prosecuted if their laptops are stolen



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http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article2873186.ece 

By Frances Gibb
Legal Editor
The Times
November 15, 2007

Doctors who have laptops containing patients=E2=80=99 records stolen from their 
cars could end up in court.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, said a =E2=80=9Cblatant breach of 
fundamental observation=E2=80=9D should attract criminal penalties.

He told the Lords=E2=80=99 Constitution Committee that this was a new criminal 
offence being sought to enforce compliance with data protection laws.

The offence would be for knowingly or recklessly flouting data 
protection principles. Offenders could be fined up to =C2=A35,000 in a 
magistrates=E2=80=99 court or unlimited sums in the Crown Court.

Mr Thomas said: =E2=80=9CIf a doctor, or hospital [employee] leaves a laptop 
containing patients=E2=80=99 records in his car and it is stolen, it is hard to 
see that is anything but gross negligence.=E2=80=9D

The commission can currently issue enforcement notices but these =E2=80=9Cdo not 
impose any element of punishment for wrongdoing=E2=80=9D. But Lord Lyell of 
Markyate, a former Attorney-General, said it would be disproportionate 
to criminalise doctors for losing a laptop.

Mr Thomas said the intention was not to prosecute for a single incident, 
but that for gross negligence there was =E2=80=9Ca need to have some deterrent 
in place=E2=80=9D. He said anyone holding personal data should know the basics 
of =E2=80=9Cencryption=E2=80=9D to protect that material.

A second power being sought from the Ministry of Justice would enable 
the commissioner=E2=80=99s office to inspect companies without warning, instead 
of with consent, to monitor their compliance with data protection laws.

The commissioner told the committee that moves were in hand to identify 
children who might become the fifth of adults responsible for 80 per 
cent of crime. =E2=80=9CThis involves analysing circumstantial risk factors such 
as family members=E2=80=99 criminal records,=E2=80=9D he said. =E2=80=9CThis runs the real risk 
that children are stigmatised from an early age.=E2=80=9D


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