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IoM Government Orders Data Security Review

by Jason Gorringe,, London

22 November 2007

Manx Treasury Minister Allan Bell has announced an internal review of the Isle of Man Government’s data security measures following the loss of personal information on a massive scale by the UK's HM Revenue and Customs.

"There is no reason to think there is any problem with our procedures," Bell stated. "However, in the light of what has happened in the UK it is sensible and prudent to review our policies and processes to confirm that we comply with best practice when it comes to minimising the risk of data loss."

Bell was seeking to reassure Isle of Man residents and businesses about the security of information held about them by the island's government, after it emerged earlier this week that the personal details of over 25 million individuals in the UK had been lost in a colossal blunder by HMRC.

The two data discs were put into the general post by a junior HMRC official, but they were not recorded and have subsequently disappeared. The discs contained the names, addresses, dates of birth, child benefit numbers, National Insurance numbers and bank or building society account details of some 25 million individuals and 7.25 million families.

According to Bell, islanders have little to fear, however, because the Isle of Man government has high-level information security and data protection policies in place. The Isle of Man has a Code of Best Practice on the Maintenance of Information Security, and there are references to information security in its Financial Regulations.

Three years ago, the Manx Treasury’s Information Systems Division became one of the first organisations in the world to gain accreditation to the new international standard on information security, ISO 27001, which is audited every six months. The standard covers a wide range of security issues, including the protection and encryption of data into coded form when it is transferred onto disks.

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