A government official who left top secret intelligence data about Al-Qaeda on a train will be charged by the police.
According to the BBC, the man will be charged under the Official Secrets Act, which deals with the protection of national security information. The high-level documents he left behind assessed the strength of Al Qaeda and of Iraq’s security forces.
The paper documents were found in June on a train to Waterloo station in London, and handed to the BBC. The man responsible was on secondment from the Ministry of Defence, it was reported.
The Crown Prosecution Service has recommended the man be charged under clause 8.1 of the Official Secrets Act, which addresses how information is protected.
The charge against the official is likely to increase the pressure on the government to improve its data control. A separate investigation by the BBC found that the details of one in every fifteen people in the country had been lost by the government in the last year alone.
The government’s continued creation of large databases has also come under fire from a powerful group of MPs, who said in June that Whitehall should first prove the worth of data collection before starting projects. Two of the largest projects running include the £12.7 billion NHS National Programme for IT, which is the largest ever civilian IT project, and the £4.7 billion ID card scheme.
But concerns remain over the government’s methods for controlling data. In the latest incident, the details of reportedly 50,000 RAF staff have been stolen from an RAF base. The government defended the information not being encrypted, saying that it was not necessary as the data had been on hard drives locked in a highly secure location.
Last month, analysts told Computerworld UK that the government needs to make sure it has the right data tracking technology in place to stop the problem, and not rely on policies alone.
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