British independent government watchdog Big Brother Watch recently released some disturbing figures when it comes to U.K. law enforcement and its disregard for the nation’s Data Protection Act.
According to Big Brother Watch, 904 police employees in England and Wales have been disciplined by international procedures for improperly accessing confidential databases during the past three years. The group obtained the data through a series of freedom of information requests to various departments.
The incident has caused many in the U.K. and around the globe to call for better data protection measures across British law enforcement.
“All officers are subject to the standards of professional behavior set out in the Police Conduct Regulations,” said a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers. “When an officer’s conduct, on duty or off duty, falls below the standards, there will be an investigation into what has occurred and if the allegation is proven, then appropriate action will be taken.”
The disciplinary actions resulted in criminal convictions for 243 of the police employees, while cases were dropped for another 98.
In the more innocent cases, officers were found to have run background checks on friends and possible love interests. However, according to Big Brother Watch, there were also instances of officers passing sensitive information to criminal gangs and drug dealers.
“This is at best hugely intrusive and, at worse, downright dangerous,” Daniel Hamilton, director at Big Brother Watch, said.
Unfortunately, data breaches, whether caused by malicious insiders or attacks from the outside, are quickly becoming a near statistical certainty. A survey of 583 IT professionals released by the Ponemon Institute last month revealed that 90 percent said their companies have suffered a data breach during the past year. Fifty-nine percent said they’ve suffered more than one.