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UK's military secrets missing: report

world Updated: Jul 19, 2008 13:40 IST

Britain's security may have been compromised after authorities admitted that military "secrets" stored in hundreds of laptops have gone missing.

UK's Ministry of Defence admitted that more than 700 of its laptops have gone missing or been stolen in the last four years. It said that 22 portable memory sticks containing classified information had been either stolen or lost this year, The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday.

"It seems that this government simply cannot be trusted with keeping sensitive information safe. It is frightening to think that secret MoD information can be lost or stolen," said Sarah Teather, a British lawmaker.

The British daily said that an independent review of the MoD's information security systems earlier this year warned that a "Facebook generation" of young officials had not learned the disciplines of the Cold War and were often careless with sensitive data.

The MoD informed parliament that 131 of the department's portable USB memory sticks had been taken or misplaced since 2004. Of the 26 small storage devices missing this year, three held information classified as "secret." Another 19 carried "restricted" data.

Previously the MoD had confessed to 347 laptops being stolen, but the total was raised after "anomalies in the reporting process" were discovered.

"This is yet another example of the Government's inability to protect confidential information. To treat national security in such a cavalier fashion is unforgivable," said Liam Fox, the Conservative Party shadow defence secretary.