Concern over home database security

Information security weaknesses at the Government body in charge of compiling information on all homes in England risk turning the database into a “burglar’s charter”, the Tories have said.

The Opposition issued the warning after it emerged an expert assessment of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) earlier this year found it failed to meet minimum standards across the board.

Ministers refused calls last week to publish the report, by Deloitte, arguing that it was “restricted” because it contained sensitive security information.

Its release was demanded after failures to meet heightened security requirements introduced in the wake of a series of Whitehall data-loss scandals were revealed in VOA’s annual report.

Deloitte assessed the agency’s security “maturity” and identified areas for improvement to enable full compliance with Government and industry standards for information security compliance. The annual report noted: “Their assessment shows an overall maturity rating of the VOA across the six process areas below minimum target standards.”

An “Agency Security Programme” had been set up to oversee improvements, it said, including “an extensive risk management review of all our information systems” and “a range of other information risk areas from policy review to physical security”. It concluded that “risk exposure is being actively managed to acceptable levels”.

Shadow communities secretary Caroline Spelman said the database being compiled for a council tax revaluation included 834,000 digital photographs of homes as well as property details such as conservatories, parking spaces, stables, outside balconies, roof terraces and those on quiet roads.

“Labour’s database state is out of control,” she said.

“We already knew that Inland Revenue cannot be trusted to look after our tax records, now the Government’s council tax inspectors have an equally lax approach to security. I fear that this Big Brother property database, complete with intrusive photographs, is now a Burglar’s Charter.

“Labour’s insecure property database is an IT accident waiting to happen – and a DIY guide to thieves to identify the easiest and most lucrative homes to rob. Conservatives will scrap Labour’s revaluation plans and protect the privacy and liberty of law-abiding citizens.”


About Andy Painter

A passionate Information and Data Architect with experience of the financial services industry, Andy’s background spans pharmaceuticals, publishing, e-commerce, retail banking and insurance, but always with a focus on data. One of Andy’s principle philosophies is that data is a key business asset.
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