The disappearance of 4,800 laptops, cell phones, and other devices used by government Employees in the past five years should be investigated, ministers were urged.
The highest number of missing devices in all departments was recorded by the. reported Ministry of Defense 1,483 pieces of technology were either lost or stolen during this period.
the Cabinet Office which includes the prime minister’s office, reported 553 missing or lost items.
Records of the missing devices, which include USB sticks and external hard drives, were exposed after Ms. Olney requested them from all UK government agencies.
The government has a responsibility to protect our data and our country. It feels like they fail at both of them
Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat MP
A total of 4,871 phones, laptops, USB sticks and hard drives have been found lost or stolen since 2017, despite the government stressing that all technology used by employees is encrypted to prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.
The Department of Defense did not have separate records for stolen or lost devices, but most items were lost in 2019, including 239 laptops, 106 cell phones, 60 memory sticks and 25 external hard drives.
In 2021, a smaller number of items went missing, including 143 laptops, 25 cell phones, 79 memory sticks, and 25 hard drives.
Defense Secretary Leo Docherty said, “All departmental IT is fully security-encrypted,” adding, “The department’s security department records and investigates every reported loss to the department. If necessary, the police will be asked to start further investigations. “
Of the 553 items reported lost or stolen by the cabinet, 181 were laptops and 372 were cell phones.
The highest number of both items were reported missing in 2019, with 63 laptops and 136 phones lost or stolen that year.
Cabinet Secretary Michael Ellis said the department is encrypting the devices and he put the numbers in the “context” of the department’s core staff of 9,248 people.
Of the other departments that answered Liberal Democrats’ questions, the Department of Justice reported 1,166 missing or stolen equipment, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 453, and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 322.
Ms. Olney said: “It is deeply worrying that so many government laptops and memory sticks have been lost or stolen in the past few years.
“These devices could contain sensitive information about UK citizens or national security – information that could get into the wrong hands of concern.
“Ministers should open an official investigation into why this keeps happening and the risks it poses for all of us.
“The government has a responsibility to protect our data and our country. It feels like they’re failing both of them. “
The Ministry of Education did not provide information on how much equipment was lost and said it could only be obtained “at a disproportionate cost”.
The Department for Work and Pensions provided percentages rather than numbers, adding that most losses or thefts occurred from home or office break-ins and while traveling.
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