In total, 34 U.K. local council employees were found to have illegally accessed the Customer Information System (CIS) database, according to a news report. The CIS is one of three systems that will constitute the U.K. government's national identity database, which is currently under development.
The employee terminations and unauthorized access were revealed through a Freedom of Information request made by the British publication Computer Weekly. The report did not say when the unauthorized access took place.
The report includes details of Cardiff and Glasgow workers who were fired after looking up the personal details of celebrities, and a Brent council worker fired after using the database to search for personal details about his girlfriend.
The CIS database stores information on 92 million people, including ethnicity and relationship history. About 200,000 government officials have access to the database, including staff at local authorities and various government departments, the report says.
"This is yet another case of those with authorized access being the root of the problem," said one critic of the national identity system. "It's not about external hackers. It's actually the problem of the temptation."
According to the report, an Identity and Passport Service (IPS) spokesperson said the future national identity system will not pull data directly from the CIS, but will store its data separately, and with additional safeguards.
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