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Britain’s data watchdog is investigating how MPs share their computers with interns, after a Conservative backbencher said her staff used her personal log-in “every day”.
The Information Commissioner’s Office said it was “making enquiries of the relevant parliamentary authorities”, and reminded “MPs and others of their obligations under the Data Protection Act to keep personal data secure.”
On Saturday Nadine Dorries, a maverick Conservative MP, said, “my staff log onto my computer on my desk with my login everyday. Including interns on exchange programmes.”
Her comments were an attempt to defend Damian Green, the first secretary of state, who has been accused by former police officers of accessing porn on a computer seized nine years ago. Mr Green denies wrongdoing, and says that no claims of pornographic material were put to him at the time his computer was inspected.
Nick Boles, a former Conservative minister, echoed her sentiments, saying, “I often forget my password and have to ask my staff what it is.”
The Open Rights Group, a campaign organisation, had criticised Ms Dorries’s statement, saying:
On the face of it, Nadine Dorries is admitting to breaching basic data protection laws, making sure her constituents’ emails and correspondence is kept confidential and secure. She should not be sharing her log-in with interns. More worryingly, it appears this practices of MPs sharing their log-ins may be rather widespread. If so, we need to know.
The ICO referenced its data protection principle of security, which states that those holding personal data should have “the right physical and technical security, backed up by robust policies and procedures and reliable, well-trained staff”.