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Data on 3M UK Drivers 'Lost in Iowa'

Misplaced hard drive adds to furor over lost tax data

The British government's IT security woes got deeper today when Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly reported to Parliament that the personal data of some 3 million U.K. drivers has been lost by a contractor in Iowa.

The administration has already been in hot water for most of the month, following the loss of as many as eight CDs containing the personal information of some 25 million taxpayers and family members. (See UK Government in Uproar Following Data Loss.)

In a statement before Parliament earlier today, Chancellor Alistair Darling told British legislators that the government has made little progress in finding the missing CDs, according to reports. Then Transport Secretary Kelly stepped to the microphone.

"In May this year, Pearson Driving Assessments Ltd, a private contractor to the Driving Standards Agency, informed the agency that a hard disk drive had gone missing from its secure facility in Iowa City, Iowa," Kelly said. "The hard disk drive contained the records of just over three million candidates for the driving theory test."

The records contained the driver's name, postal address, phone number, the test fee paid, the test center, a code indicating how the test was paid for, and an email address, Kelly said.

The lost hard drive was "formatted specifically to fit Pearson configuration" and therefore would not be easy for third parties to read, Kelly said. She did not give further details on the configuration, and the department did not say whether the data on the drive was encrypted.

Kelly also confirmed reports of last week which stated that one of her department's offices in Northern Ireland had lost the personal data of more than 6,000 drivers when two disks were lost in the mail.

The disks, which contain the names and addresses of the motorists and the license plate numbers of their 7,685 vehicles, went missing at a sorting center in Coventry, Kelly confirmed.

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