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bpas comment on penalty served by ICO

Comment from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service on notice of £200,000 penalty served by the Information Commissioner's Office for serious data breach.

On the 8th March 2012 a hacker opposed to abortion broke into the website of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas). He defaced our website with anti-abortion messages and obtained names and telephone numbers of people who had used a webform to request a callback from bpas staff to discuss issues relating to pregnancy, contraception and sexual health. These were not personal medical records of women who had undergone treatment at bpas and such records were never at risk, but bpas takes any data breach immensely seriously and we were appalled that any information we hold had been compromised. The police were contacted immediately and an injunction was obtained from the High Court to prevent the hacker from publishing any information he had obtained from the site. Shortly after the injunction was served by bpas, the specialist e-crimes branch of the police arrested the hacker at his home and the data was secured. He subsequently received a prison term of 32 months.

 Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said:

“We accept that no hacker should have been able to steal our data but we are horrified by the scale of the fine, which does not reflect the fact that bpas was a victim of a serious crime by someone opposed to what we do. bpas is a charity which spends any proceeds on the care of women who need our help and on improving public education and knowledge on contraception, fertility and unplanned pregnancy. This fine seems out of proportion when compared with those levelled against other organisations who were not themselves the victims of a crime. It is appalling that a hacker who acted on the basis of his opposition to abortion should see his actions rewarded in this way. We will be appealing the verdict of the Information Commissioner’s Office.”

ENDS

For more information please contact the bpas press office on 0207 061 3377 or 07788 725185

About bpas

bpas supports reproductive choice and health by advocating and providing high quality services to prevent unwanted pregnancies with contraception or end them by abortion. We also offer a range of other reproductive health services through more than 50 centres throughout the UK, treating more than 60,000 women and men each year.