Civil servants' wrists slapped for computer misuse

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The Civil Service has disciplined hundreds of its employees for accessing private information they had no right to see.

More than 300 civil servants from the Inland Revenue were apprehended last year for breaking in-house rules on email, computer and internet misuse. Almost half of those offenders accessed unauthorised material.

Staff in twelve departments at Whitehall have been found to break computer misuse rules.

During the seven years before 2003 at IR, 1,369 civil servants were suspected of computer misuse, and 1100 disciplined.

The Department of Work and Pensions had 31 cases of unauthorised access, excluding minor cases.

There were 304 reports of employees altering confidential data between 1998 and 2003.

Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesman Steve Webb was alarmed by the results.

The majority of offences at the Northern Ireland office was related to inappropriate or pornographic material.

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