Monday, December 17, 2007

For Real: It could be war! Iowegians lost 3,000,000 Limey Drivers' Records. They're not happy!

For starters, all our students will flunk their achievement tests this year!

The company at the centre of the latest missing data fiasco admitted last night that it had lost the details of more than three million British learner drivers during a routine back-up procedure seven months ago.

Pearson Driving Assessments Limited, which is owned by the publisher of The Financial Times, has a seven-year contract to handle the applications of candidates for the driving theory test.

The details of every British learner who took the test between Sept 2004 and April 2007 were on a computer hard drive at its "worldwide data centre" in Iowa City, Iowa.

The hard drive went missing after being taken to Bloomington, Minnesota, to be backed up and then returned to Iowa. It was lost on its return to Iowa.

Officials at the Driving Standards Agency, which oversees the tests, were informed within days but details only became public last night.

The company, which is British based, said it "deeply regretted" the loss and insisted it was the first time it had happened.

Charles Goldsmith, a spokesman, said: "We take great care of the quality of our data and security of our data and we deeply regret this incident."

The company insisted it had tightened security procedures to ensure there would be no repeat. Pearson pointed out that there were no financial details, National Insurance numbers or driving licence numbers on the missing hard drive.

Mr Goldsmith added: "There is no loss of sensitive financial data and no evidence of misuse."

Both the Government and the standards agency were aware that data was in Iowa for storage.

Although the Driving Standards Agency sets the questions for the theory test, the entire testing process is administered and run by Pearson at 150 UK centres.

Pearson won the multi-million pound contract to administer and process the test in Nov 2003, with the contract starting in Sept 2004.

Pearson Driving Assessments Limited is a subsidiary of Pearson VUE, the self-proclaimed "world's leading learning company" specialising in online testing and assessment.

In the US, Pearson is involved with developing, scoring and processing tens of millions of student tests every year, at school and university levels.

A total of 18 million US school students learn English and maths with a Pearson programme, while 10,000 primary schools in the UK use digital educational materials from Pearson Education. The Telegraph

Uh Oh!

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