BBC staff lose £240,000-worth of laptops and mobiles

BBC staff have lost laptops and mobile devices worth more than £240,000, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

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BBC staff have lost laptops and mobile devices worth more than £240,000, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The FOI request, made by IT security company Absolute Software, unveiled that BBC employees reported 146 laptops, 65 mobile phones and 17 BlackBerrys going missing between April 2008 and March 2010.

The BBC said that the lost laptops were valued at a total £219,000, the mobiles £12,913 and the BlackBerrys £9,106. The total value of losses, £241, 019, is equal to 1,656 colour TV licences costing £145.50 each.

However, while 19 of the missing items, 15 laptops, three mobiles and one Blackberry, worth a total £23,450, were recovered, the corporation said that this left the final bill for missing equipment at £217,569.

Dave Everitt, European general manager at Absolute Software, said: “It is shocking that any organisation could lose so much equipment.

“This technology is paid for by the licence payer and employees should be far more careful about how they handle it.”

Furthermore, although the BBC said it investigated one employee over the theft of a laptop, it did not say if any employees were disciplined for the losses.

In a statement, the BBC said: “The portability of laptops and phones means that in any large organisation there is an inevitable risk of theft.

“The BBC Investigation Service is involved whenever an allegation of theft is made, and where appropriate the police are informed and prosecutions brought where we can.”

In addition, the BBC said that the mobile devices that it issues to staff are “appropriately protected” and that most small mobile devices have a remote wipe facility.

The Information Commissioner’s Office will usually carry out an investigation if laptops and mobile devices containing personal data go missing. However, the BBC would not confirm if any personal data was on the lost devices.

"We use encryption as part of a range of security measures but we wouldn't comment further on matters of security," said a spokesperson for the BBC.

Meanwhile, the ICO said that it has received reports of data breaches from the BBC in the past.

A spokesperson for the ICO said: "Should we receive evidence to suggest there have been further significant losses of unencrypted personal information that have not been reported to us, we will not hesitate to take this up with the BBC to establish the facts and identify what action, if any, is necessary.”

Lost or stolen hardware led to the NHS being responsible for the highest number of data breaches as of May, when the ICO recorded more than 1,000 data breaches reported.

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