BP lose laptop containing sensitive claimant data

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oil company BP has reportedly lost a laptop containing the personal information of approximately 13,000 people who filed claims against the company following the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year.

Tom Mueller, a spokesperson for the company, confirmed they had written to "individuals impacted by this event to inform them about the loss of their personal data and to offer them free credit monitoring services to help protect their personal information." Mueller said the laptop was lost during "routine business travel," and was reported to have the ability to be deactivated remotely.

BP refused to comment about the employee who lost the laptop. The data on the laptop contained the names, addresses, Social Security numbers, phone numbers and the dates of birth of claimants, which was unencrypted even though the laptop itself is protected by a password.

The data on the laptop concerned claimants against the company after one of its oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, sending up to 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean, which eventually reached the southern U.S. coastline.

One resident affected by the the oil disaster and the lost laptop expressed his outrage at BP when interviewed by NPR. "It's terrible, I kinda work hard for the things I have," he said. "I wouldn't want somebody with a computer to be able to take it from me. It's very disturbing. It's like another gallon of gas thrown on the fire."